Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Marathoner Liew demands S$120,000 in damages from teammate Soh over ‘false’ claims about sportsmanship act

SINGAPORE — A bitter dispute between SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong and teammate Ashley Liew over a contested act of sportsmanship has intensified.

This is the latest development in the ongoing spat between two-time SEA Games gold medallist Soh Rui Yong (left) and teammate Ashley Liew (right) over events during the men’s marathon race at the SEA Games in 2015.

This is the latest development in the ongoing spat between two-time SEA Games gold medallist Soh Rui Yong (left) and teammate Ashley Liew (right) over events during the men’s marathon race at the SEA Games in 2015.

Follow us on Instagram and Tiktok, and join our Telegram channel for the latest updates.

SINGAPORE — A bitter dispute between SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong and teammate Ashley Liew over a contested act of sportsmanship has intensified.

Lawyers acting for Mr Liew on Thursday (May 9) demanded that Mr Soh pay S$120,000 in monetary damages to Mr Liew for defamation, remove all “false” public statements and issue a public apology.

In a Facebook post in October last year, Mr Soh had disputed Mr Liew’s account of events during the SEA Games men’s marathon final in 2015.

In a widely publicised incident, Mr Liew said he had slowed down to allow other runners in the event to catch up after they missed a U-turn and took the wrong path. Mr Soh won the race.

The incident led to Mr Liew winning the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy — a global prize for good sportsmanship.

On April 9, Mr Liew’s lawyer, Mr Mark Teng of That.Legal LLC, sent a letter to Mr Soh saying that his statements about Mr Liew had “hurt and disparaged” his client’s professional image as a doctor of chiropractic and his reputation as a competitive marathon runner. These had also caused Mr Liew “financial and reputational loss and damage”.

The letter also demanded that Mr Soh remove his public statements about Mr Liew, issue a public apology and pay the latter’s legal costs. Mr Soh was given till April 16 to agree to Mr Liew’s demands or face possible legal action.

However, Mr Soh said then that he would not back down from his claims.

In a letter dated Thursday (May 9), Mr Teng sent a second letter detailing his client’s defamation claim and demanding that Mr Soh “respond positively” within 14 days or face legal action.

In comments to TODAY, Mr Soh, 27, reiterated on Thursday that he would not be complying with the demands “because what I have said is what I witnessed”.

Mr Soh had previously said that Mr Liew did not slow down during the marathon race to allow his rivals to catch up.

The national marathoner again alleged on Thursday that Mr Liew did not slow down to a crawl to wait for the other runners as the pack had chased him for several minutes before they caught up. They would done so “within 30 seconds” if he had slowed down, he claimed.

“Over the last month, I have spent some time gathering evidence to prove this. I will be more than happy to present the evidence in court should Ashley continue to escalate the issue,” he added.

“I feel sorry for Ashley that he's continuing to waste time and energy on defending his story.”

On April 1, the lawyers of Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) had also served Soh a legal letter demanding that he publicly retract his allegations and admit that his claims about Mr Liew were wrong.

The SNOC, which had nominated Mr Liew for the award, later said that it was leaving it to him to pursue the matter with his teammate.

Singapore Athletics, the national sports association, also offered to mediate between the parties to find a mutually acceptable and amicable outcome.

ABOUT THE DISPUTE

Mr Soh’s allegations that Mr Liew’s account of the incident was “untrue”, were later backed up by one of the 12 runners in that race — the late Rafael Poliquit from the Philippines — and two witnesses who had previously coached him.

The SNOC said that following Mr Soh’s claims, its lawyers had interviewed eye-witnesses, with four of them providing statutory declarations. This was to ensure that Mr Soh’s allegations were “fully investigated” with the truth to “be determined”, said the council.

“Each of them positively affirmed that they saw Mr Liew slowing down to allow some of the runners who had fallen behind him due to taking the wrong route to catch up. One of these eye witnesses was himself a participant in that same race,” said SNOC.

The council said that it had on April 1 offered Mr Soh the opportunity to view the declarations but that was not taken up.

It also publicly rebuked Mr Soh in its statement, saying that his “continued refusal” to acknowledge that he was wrong in his allegations “reflects poorly on him as an individual and as an athlete”.

In his first public comments since the allegations surfaced last year, Mr Liew said last month that he had not responded previously as it was “not my nature to fan any controversy”.

“To me, staying silent on the matter was an exercise in de-escalation, not an admission of guilt,” he said.

“However, with the insinuations continuing, I cannot remain silent anymore. I believe it is time to speak up and clear the air.”

Related topics

Sports athletics marathon defamation sportsmanship

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.