National cyclist Vincent Ang has been suspended from representing Singapore for three months, for assaulting a fellow national rider.
Mr Ang, a SEA Games bronze medallist, had admitted punching and slapping teammate Ang Kee Meng last month on a training ride along Lim Chu Kang Road, and later the same day at Adam Road Food Centre while they were on a break.
The assault followed a disagreement between the duo. Mr Ang Kee Meng, 29, later made a police report, and the Singapore Cycling Federation (SCF) investigated.
Yesterday, the SCF said in a statement that its dispute and disciplinary committee had met Mr Vincent Ang, 38, and classified the case as one of misconduct. While there were mitigating factors, "a higher level of decorum" was expected from national athletes, it added.
Mr Vincent Ang had alleged that his younger counterpart had previously made disparaging comments about him and his wife.
With the suspension, he will not be able to represent Singapore for three months starting from Aug 4.
The SCF said: "Separately, Vincent has agreed to commit to 30 hours of community service which would benefit young cycling enthusiasts... and undergo counselling to help him better manage his emotions."
Mr Vincent Ang is currently training in Thailand and could not be contacted for comment. But in his mitigation plea to the SCF, he said he was "very sorry for using force on Kee Meng", and was "prepared to apologise to Kee Meng in person".
This is not Mr Vincent Ang's first instance of road violence. In 2012, when he was part of the OCBC Singapore Continental Cycling team, he had lashed out at a rider. This was not reported to the police, but he wrote a formal apology letter, seen by The Straits Times.
Yesterday, Mr Ang Kee Meng told The Straits Times the punishment was too lenient. "There are no races for him to represent Singapore in; I don't think this is a punishment."
Others in the fraternity agreed.
One rider, who declined to be named, said: "There are no competitions here, and if the SCF is not thinking of sending the squad to any overseas competition, then the suspension has no effect."
Another said Mr Vincent Ang "won't feel the pain at all" as riders usually represent Singapore only if squads were sent to big meets like the SEA Games. Mr Vincent Ang would still be able to race with his Thai team, Team Infinite Singha.
SCF general manager Mahipal Singh said "we have no control over his club activity" but added that Mr Vincent Ang would not be able to join OCBC Cycle Singapore next month in national colours.
In its statement, the SCF said it had no precedents to draw from but referred to its athlete agreements and code of conduct, and decided that suspension was "appropriate".
Mr Singh said the suspension might affect Mr Vincent Ang's future "carding" or qualification for support and financial aid from the Sport Singapore statutory board.