The dispute between national marathoner Soh Rui Yong and former teammate Ashley Liew saw the former filing his defence and counterclaim against Liew yesterday alleging defamation and seeking $250,000 in "losses and damages".
Soh, a two-time SEA Games marathon champion, has been embroiled in a dispute with Liew since October last year, when the former, in a Facebook post, disputed Liew's account of a contested act of sportsmanship that occurred during the 2015 SEA Games marathon final.
In April, Liew sent a letter via his lawyer from That.Legal LLC accusing Soh of hurting his professional image as a doctor of chiropractic and his reputation as a competitive marathon runner with his statements.
A month later, Liew's lawyer sent a second note demanding that Soh pay $120,000 in monetary damages to his client for defamation, remove all "false" public statements and issue a public apology.
A pre-trial conference between both parties took place on Sept 24, and Soh has since sent a defence and counterclaim to Liew via his lawyers from Foxwood LLC.
In his counterclaim, Soh claimed that two statements on April 2 and 9 that Liew "published or caused to be published" on RunOne's website were "defamatory" and had "exposed him to hatred, contempt and ridicule" and "caused irreparable damage and/or injury" to his image and reputation as an athlete. RunOne's website is run by Liew's management team ONEathlete.
As a result, he is seeking damages for libel, including aggravated and/or exemplary damages to be assessed, costs, a public apology from Liew through selected media, and for Liew to "provide a written undertaking not to publish or cause to be published any further statements which are and/or may be defamatory".
Soh's legal letter said that while he had estimated his "loss and damages to be at $500,000", he would limit his claim against Liew to $250,000 as the lawsuit has already commenced in the district courts. Civil cases where the claim exceeds $250,000 are heard in the High Court.
ONEathlete declined comment when contacted yesterday.
The spat between the two athletes began last year after Soh took to social media to dispute Liew's account of the marathon, in which the latter said he had slowed down to allow other runners to catch up after they missed a U-turn and took the wrong path.
Liew was subsequently nominated for and won the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy in September 2016.