Marathoner Soh Rui Yong told to retract allegations about Ashley Liew
SEA Games marathon runner who denounced Liew's Fair Play award is served lawyer's letter from SNOC
Two-time SEA Games men's marathon champion Soh Rui Yong was served a lawyer's letter yesterday, to "publicly retract and withdraw" statements he made about the 2015 SEA Games marathon.
The letter, seen by The Straits Times, was served by law firm Rajah & Tann, which is acting for the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC).
Last October, Soh disputed Ashley Liew's account of events at the 2015 SEA Games marathon, for which Liew was given a special award for sportsmanship by the SNOC. He was also awarded the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy by the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) in 2016.
During the biennial regional Games in Singapore, Liew had reportedly found himself with a 50m lead after the 12 other runners missed a U-turn and took the wrong route.
But, instead of capitalising on his advantage, he slowed down to give his rivals time to catch up.
Liew, then 28, finished eighth, while Soh won the race.
Soh alleged on social media that Liew's story was "untrue", after the CIFP had put up a Facebook post in 2018 hailing Liew as a role model for fair play. He also repeated those comments on his blog and Facebook page.
The letter noted Soh's allegations "casts aspersions on the merits and integrity of SNOC's submission of Mr Liew's candidacy to the Fair Play Committee".
It also states the SNOC, through Rajah & Tann, has "interviewed and spoken with various individuals who had personally witnessed the event that day", and that at least four individuals have since stepped forward to SNOC to support Liew's account.
"The statements of these individuals as contained in their respective statutory declarations can only mean one thing - that your allegations about Mr Liew are false and intended to mislead and/or cause mischief," read the letter.
Soh, 27, has been given until 5pm next Monday to "publicly retract and withdraw" the statements, and admit he was wrong about his allegations.
When contacted by ST, Soh said he does not intend to comply, and has informed SNOC president Tan Chuan-Jin, who is also Speaker of Parliament, of his decision.
Soh, a business development executive, added: "As no one from SNOC has reached out to me for my side of the story before issuing this lawyer's letter, I thought that out of respect I'd inform the SNOC president directly about my decision and the reasons behind it."
As for his next course of action, Soh said: "(I will) focus on my work and my training. I will not pursue further action on this case unless SNOC decides to do so."
In a statement to ST, an SNOC spokesman reiterated the points raised in the letter sent to Soh and noted: "We thank the four individuals who came forward to clear the air and clarify the facts... We have also invited Mr Soh to view these statutory declarations."