Soh Rui Yong rejects Singapore Athletics' offer for mediation

Soh Rui Yong celebrates winning the men's marathon at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore. (PHOTO: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee/Action Images via Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Reigning SEA Games marathon gold medallist Soh Rui Yong has rejected an offer of mediation by Singapore Athletics (SA) to settle their dispute on his non-selection for this year’s Games.

Soh – represented by Clarence Lun of Foxwood LLC – uploaded on his official website a legal letter dated Wednesday (14 August), saying via his lawyers that SA “failed to give basis” to defamatory allegations on Soh when explaining why he was not selected for the SEA Games.

The 27-year-old also said that SA had failed to “clarify their position in this matter, seemingly shying away from providing basis and trying to settle this behind closed doors after making defamatory allegations”.

The letter said, “Until such time when our client is able to review your client's substantive response then will our client be able to consider if a meeting between parties, when set up, will be purposeful and fruitful.”

First legal letter on 7 August

Soh had first sent a legal letter on 7 August, claiming that SA had made "false and defamatory” allegations against him. He invited the national sports association to resolve the dispute by 13 August, 5pm.

SA, via lawyer Chandra Mohan K. Nair of Tan Rajah & Cheah, replied to Soh's first letter on 13 August, urging both parties to “seriously consider mediating on this matter", and proposed a without prejudice meeting.

It said in its letter of reply, “Our clients' duty and approach to further the paramount interests of athletes and athletics is to settle any dispute that may arise between an athlete and Singapore Athletic Association through mediation as a first resort.”

Another legal letter to SNOC

Soh had also sent a legal letter to the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), also on 7 August, claiming that he was not given a fair opportunity to defend himself, after the SNOC decided not to select him for the SEA Games in the Philippines.

He further accused the SNOC of applying “highly subjective, inconsistent and/or arbitrary standards in the selection process for the 2019 SEA Games” and “disregarded the fundamental principles of merit-based selection which an organisation of its stature would be expected to adhere to strictly”.

Likewise, he invited SNOC to resolve the dispute by 13 August, 5pm.

SNOC, via its lawyers from Rajah and Tann, wrote back on 8 August requesting for a deadline extension, as well as not publicly sharing or disseminating future correspondence.

However, Soh rejected both requests via a second legal letter to SNOC on 10 August.

Still gunning for winning runs

Amid his legal issues with SA and SNOC, Soh is continuing to take part in running competitions.

On Wednesday, he put up an Instagram post declaring that he wants to be the first Singaporean to win the 18.45km race category of the annual Straits Times Run, which is to be held on 29 September.

He wrote in the post, “Since the introduction of the category in 2015... the men's race has been won every year by a Kenyan until two-time Commonwealth Games marathoner Ben Moreau (England) won it last year.

“I believe that it would be really cool if a race organised by our national paper could be won by a Singaporean. So this year, I'm training hard to be the first Singaporean to win it.”

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