Singapore Athletics (SA), which is now under the newly elected leadership of Team Ground Up, has issued a public apology to marathoner Soh Rui Yong on 16 October for inconvenience and distress caused by a statement the association made back in 2019 by the previous committee in which it said that Mr Soh had “on several occasions breached [the Association’s] Athletic Code of Conduct” and “[f]or his transgressions, [the Association] had attempted to counsel and reason with him, as part of a holistic rehabilitation process”. The SA withdrew that 2019 statement unconditionally.
In a press release, the Association also said that it “shall stand down the disciplinary proceedings initiated by the outgoing management on 25 September 2020 against Mr Soh.”
In a Facebook post highlighting this on the same day, Mr Soh said, “The new management committee elected into Singapore Athletics as of Sept 25th 2020 has made a public apology for (in my view) defamatory statements made by Singapore Athletics in August 2019. “
“After 14 months, it’s nice to have the issue finally resolved! Additionally, they stood down the (in my view) frivolous disciplinary charges the old management committee launched on the final day of their term on 25th Sept 2020 as a parting gift to me.”
He concluded, “I now look forward to breaking new ground by becoming the first Singaporean man to qualify for the Commonwealth Games Marathon and Asian Games Marathon in 2022.”
In its statement, the SA noted that Mr Soh has agreed to withdraw and discontinue the legal actions he had taken up against the association, adding that he will now work with SA and the Singapore National Olympics Council to “promote a positive image of the sport to the best of his ability.”
It continued, “On its part, cognisant of Mr Soh’s proven track record and his dedication to his craft, the Association is committed to supporting Mr Soh to once again don national colours and compete for Singapore against the best in the region and the world.”
Soh prevented from participating in 2019 SEA Games; commenced legal action against SNOC and SA
In late July 2019, the SNOC announced that its select committee had decided to reject the SA’s nomination of Mr Soh’s participation in the 2019 SEA Games.
The national Olympic body said, “Since the 2017 SEA Games, there have been numerous instances where Soh has displayed conduct that falls short of the standards of attitude and behaviour that the SNOC expects of and holds its athletes to, considering that they are held up and seen as representatives of the country and as examples to our sporting youth.”
These conflict include a warning by SNOC to Mr Soh for a breach of regulations relation to the promotion of personal sponsors on social media as well as another incident in which Mr Soh’s actions of cutting holds into his race vest before the 2017 SEA Games led to a loss of sponsor.
This year, Mr Soh was served a legal letter of demand by the SNOC to retract his accounts of what happened at the 2015 SEA Games marathon in which he had recounted how his fellow Singaporean runner Ashley Liew didn’t slow down after a route-related error left the leading group trailing behind. Mr Soh’s accounts contradicted SNOC’s view of the incident. In fact, SNOC had nominated Liew for an international award for the act of sportsmanship during that marathon.
Following all this, Mr Soh commenced legal action against SNOC and SA to “protect the rights of current and future athletes of Singapore, and to push Singapore sports governing bodies to more accountability and transparency.”
He said in a post back then, “Over the last few days, Singapore Athletics (SA) made several allegations against me. In particular, SA alleged that I had committed a series of purported “transgressions” without giving any explanation and/or details as to the same.”
“The SNOC, meanwhile, has applied highly subjective, inconsistent and/or arbitrary standards in the selection process for the 2019 SEA Games and has disregarded the fundamental principles of merit-based selection which an organisation of its stature would be expected to adhere to strictly.”