Athletics: SA board of inquiry made up of three MC members

Singapore Athletics' chairman of race walking Leong Lee San (centre) will be part of a three-member board of inquiry.
Singapore Athletics' chairman of race walking Leong Lee San (centre) will be part of a three-member board of inquiry.ST FILE PHOTO

A board of inquiry (BOI) has been formed to investigate a controversial WhatsApp conversation involving senior officials from Singapore Athletics (SA).

Leaked photos of the conversation appeared to show SA vice-president (training and selection) Govindasamy Balasekaran instructing SA staff to collect evidence so that disciplinary action would have to be taken against local coaches Margaret Oh (sprint) and David Yeo (pole vault).

The three-member BOI was announced by SA president Ho Mun Cheong in an e-mail addressed to SA's affiliates and management committee members yesterday.

It will be headed by Terry Tan, 43, SA's chairman of tug of war. The other two members are Leong Lee San, 81, and Joe Yap, 55, the chairman of race walking and chairman of officials respectively.

While Ho previously said the BOI would comprise independent individuals, he stressed to The Straits Times (ST) yesterday that he was confident the board would remain neutral as its work is factual in nature and findings will be presented in writing to SA's management committee.

At the centre of the investigation are Balasekaran, technical director Volker Herrmann, general manager Jaime Cheong, high performance manager Ong Wan Xin and senior executive Shalindran Sathiyanesan. All five were part of the WhatsApp group chat in question.

Should there be any breach of conduct found, the matter will be referred to a disciplinary committee comprising three independent panellists.

Ho could not confirm when this entire process would be concluded but said it would not affect preparations for the SEA Games, which are six weeks away.

Singapore won three gold, three silver and three bronze medals in athletics at the 2015 Games on home soil.

"It will take some time to start the investigations," Ho said. "If (the BOI) isn't started now, the public will question the association on why it is taking so long to start the investigation.

"So they will start first, and it won't interfere with the athletes' training."

Herrmann, who is with several national athletes in India for the Asian Championships, told ST: "We always acted in support of the athletes and Singapore Athletics.

"I'm not concerned (about the impartiality of the BOI) because there's nothing to find against us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2017, with the headline 'SA board of inquiry made up of three MC members'. Print Edition | Subscribe