Singapore sports officials must be honest: Tan

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, who is president of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), yesterday reminded local sports officials of their duty to sport and athletes, as doping and corruption scandals cast a shadow on the international sports scene.

In a blog post and letter to the member national sports associations, he said: "In light of these crises, we must remind ourselves of our purpose and the responsibilities we have on hand, and to conduct ourselves and act above board at all times."

He also emphasised the importance of making athlete-centric policies and decisions.

He added: "Our athletes are at the epicentre of the work we do. We must continue to help them to develop their sporting potential and if possible, help them to realise their sporting ambitions... and not be disrupted by other irrelevant demands and unnecessary distractions."

His post comes as major international sporting bodies and powers come under the microscope.

World football body Fifa has been hit by separate corruption scandals in recent months.

These have called into question the legitimacy of the World Cup bidding process, led to the arrest of senior Fifa officials including vice-president Jeffrey Webb, and included the suspension of Fifa chief Sepp Blatter and Uefa president Michel Platini, also a Fifa vice-president.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has been hit by reports of widespread doping, with a World Anti-Doping Agency report claiming the organisation had ignored systemic and state-sponsored doping in Russia, one of the sport's major powers.

Former IAAF president Lamine Diack is being investigated for corruption and money laundering.

Singapore sports have also come under the spotlight recently. A player-coach dispute in the national women's table tennis team saw paddler Yu Mengyu publicly slam former coach Jing Junhong. Jing has since been replaced by Liu Jiayi.

In the men's team, head coach Yang Chuanning was sacked. Among the accusations laid against him was that he did not treat the players equally and looked down in particular on local-born paddlers.

In light of all these, Mr Tan urged sports officials here to "carry out their duties and responsibilities in good faith", reminding them to declare any conflict of interests, be transparent, and to not abuse their positions for personal gain.

He said: "Colleagues, let us continue to promote sports and provide opportunities for our athletes and officials to excel in sport without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit."

Singapore Athletics (SA) president Tang Weng Fei said Mr Tan's post serves as a reminder for officials to not rest on their laurels.

He added that the association "will continue our zero-tolerance policy for drugs".

"For the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore next month, we are spending an additional $10,000 to ensure all elite runners who receive prize money are tested."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'Singapore sports officials must be honest: Tan'. Print Edition | Subscribe