Singapore Athletics will not appeal SNOC decision to drop Soh Rui Yong from SEA Games

SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong has been omitted from the 585-athlete contingent bound for the upcoming SEA Games in the Philippines. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - National track and field body Singapore Athletics (SA) will not be lodging an appeal for national marathoner Soh Rui Yong, who was omitted from the 585-athlete contingent bound for the upcoming SEA Games in the Philippines.

On Thursday (Aug 1), selectors from the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) rejected SA's nomination for Soh for the Games, despite the athlete having met the qualifying mark for the men's marathon event.

The SNOC cited "numerous instances" where Soh, who won the SEA Games gold in 2015 and 2017, displayed conduct that "falls short of the standards of attitude and behaviour" it expects from its athletes.

In a statement issued on Friday (Aug 2), SA said that it accepted the decision and acknowledged Soh, 27, had "on several occasions breached SA's Athlete Code of Conduct".

"For his transgressions, SA had attempted to counsel and reason with him, as part of a holistic rehabilitation process, in dealing with a significant individual who matters to the sport," it added.

SA had temporarily suspended "further engagement" with Soh on the matter of his conduct due to the "development of legal actions between him and (teammate) Ashley Liew", it added.

SA noted: "As the matter in dealing with his conduct has yet to conclude, SA submitted its nomination for Rui Yong for the SEA Games with the view that it can be withdrawn when justifiably appropriate. SA was ready to convene the disciplinary proceedings against Rui Yong but only after due and proper process."

The association also warned it would enforce its code of conduct and take disciplinary action against any athlete "which may include expulsion, suspension, imposing a penalty, censure or make any order as SA deems just and equitable to do so in the circumstances".

The SNOC's controversial decision to leave Soh out of the SEA Games squad has divided the sports fraternity, with some supporting the former's move while others have spoken up for the athlete.

The organisation noted that "since the 2017 SEA Games, there have been numerous instances where Soh has displayed conduct that falls short of the standards of attitude and behaviour that the SNOC expects of and holds its athletes to".

The SNOC and Soh have clashed several times in recent years. Before the 2017 SEA Games, he was formally warned over a breach of regulations regarding the promotion of personal sponsors on social media during the biennial Games.

He had also cut holes in his race vest before his event in Kuala Lumpur, and reportedly upset sponsor 2XU, which terminated its sponsorship of Singapore Athletics four months later.

There is also his public spat with fellow marathoner Ashley Liew over the latter's act of sportsmanship at the 2015 SEA Games that is now before the courts.

In April, the SNOC also served Soh a legal letter demanding that he publicly retract allegations against Liew. Soh had also criticised the organisation - which had nominated Liew for the sportsmanship award - on social media over its backing of Liew.

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