Singapore—Athlete Soh Rui Yong filed a defamation writ and statement of claim against Singapore Athletics (SA) in the High Court on the morning of September 11, Wednesday.
This is the latest development in the contention between the national marathoner and SA, which stemmed from Mr Soh’s exclusion from this year’s SEA Games in Manila, Philippines, later this year.
Mr Soh and his legal representatives sat down with officials from the SA last Friday, September 6, in a three-hour meeting that was an attempt to seek a resolution between the two parties.
The marathoner, the only runner from Singapore to bag back-to-back gold medals in the SEA Games in 2015 and 2017, had failed to make this year’s lineup of athletes participating in the Games because of “numerous instances” in which Mr So allegedly displayed conduct “that falls short of the standards of attitude and behaviour” the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) expects from its athletes.
The SNOC thus rejected SA’s, the governing body over track and field athletics in Singapore, nomination of Mr Soh to the 2019 SEA Games.
However, shortly after SNOC’s announcement, SA also said that Mr Soh had on “several occasions breached SA’s Athlete Code of Conduct.“ It added that the SA had endeavoured to “counsel and reason with him” regarding what they termed as his “transgressions”.
Mr Soh, however, unhappy with the statement from SA, along with his lawyers issued a legal note asking for clarification of the marathoner’s alleged “breaches of the Code.”
He also asked that the SA publicly apologise should it be determined that “if no such breach had arisen” and that the statement be retracted.
In his legal statement on September 11, Mr Soh called the SA’s statement “false and defamatory”. He also asked to be paid “damages for libel, including aggravated damages,” the amount of which is to be evaluated in court.
The marathoner has also asked SA to print a public apology in The Straits Times (ST).
According to ST, a value of $500,000 was indicated in the legal suits. However, damages for libel, which also include aggravated damages, will be determined by the High Court, which deals with civil cases where the claim is greater than $250,000.
Mr Soh posted the contents of his legal filings on his blog, runsohfast.com, and wrote,
“Despite my best efforts to reach common ground, mediation with Singapore Athletics has failed. My lawyers have issued a Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim to Singapore Athletics for defamation. I maintain my respect for President Tang Weng Fei, whom I feel has a good heart. However I will do what I must to clear my name of defamatory accusations by the association, and let it be known to all sports officials in Singapore that should you wish to publicly denounce an athlete, you better be able to back it up with basis, or you can and will be held accountable.”
The marathoner had previously issued a writ of defamation in the High Court against Syed Abdul Malik Aljunied, SA’s executive director, due to purported defamatory remarks that Mr Malik Aljunied made on a Facebook post and comments on August 17. -/TISG