SINGAPORE: Defending SEA Games marathon champion Soh Rui Yong was given a formal warning by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) after "repeatedly" breaching a rule that prohibits Team Singapore athletes from promoting their personal sponsors during the Games.
The rule is in effect from Aug 5 to Sep 5, which covers the duration of the upcoming SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, and the immediate period before and after.
Soh had apologised after meeting SNOC officials last Thursday over the sponsorship row, which involved posts on his Facebook page alluding to his sponsors. He also edited a post and took down another that infringed the blackout rule.
On Friday, Soh shared a Facebook post by sponsor H-Two-O cheering him on at the SEA Games, and added a comment thanking the company for its well wishes.
On Saturday, he posted a screenshot of a social media comment that called for a "partial relaxation" of the blackout rule. "I'm not the only one who knows that #WeNeedChange," Soh wrote.
In a statement on Monday (Aug 14), SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan said that Soh had "reneged on his promises" to remove Facebook posts that infringed on the rule against promoting sponsors during the blackout period.
Chan added that Soh had "repeatedly breached the team membership agreement".
"Despite many reminders and our constant guidance offered to him, he has not fully complied."
As a result of the breaches, Toh Boon Yi, the co-chairman of the Major Games Preparation Committee - which has been administrating and managing the SEA Games 2017 athletics team since June, met Soh on Monday and issued him a formal warning, advising him to cease the infringements.
"Failing which, disciplinary proceedings will follow accordingly," said Chan.
He added that Soh has agreed to comply from now on.
As of Monday night, the H-Two-O post was no longer visible on Soh's Facebook timeline.
"Representing Singapore at the major Games is a privilege which many athletes hope for, but also one that must be treated with utmost respect and responsibility on the part of an athlete," Chan said.
"As representatives and ambassadors of the country, there is a code of conduct which athletes and officials have to abide to. There is no exception to this."
Chan added that he hoped Soh would "focus on his preparations seriously and cooperate with the officials to get ready for the SEA Games".