SINGAPORE: The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) on Thursday (Aug 1) said it had rejected the Singapore Athletics' nomination of two-time marathon champion Soh Rui Yong for the upcoming SEA Games in the Philippines.
The decision was made on the grounds of Soh's recent conduct, which “falls short of the standards of attitude and behaviour that the SNOC expects of and holds its athletes to,” said the council in a press release.
READ: Marathoner Ashley Liew sends legal letter to Soh Rui Yong over allegations on act of sportsmanship
“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, considering that they are held up and seen as representatives of the country and as examples to our sporting youth,” said the SNOC.
“As such, the SNOC has decided to reject SA’s nomination for his national representation at the 2019 SEA Games.”
Soh told CNA he was "disappointed that SNOC President Tan Chuan-Jin and his team have chosen to behave in such a petty manner".
"This is akin to primary school playground politics where kids go 'I don't friend you already!' just because you say something they don't like," he added.
"I consider winning medals for my country at SEA Games to be a national service," said Soh, adding that he was looking forward to exploring his potential at other marathons, such as the Boston Marathon.
"I wish all my athletics teammates all the best of luck in Manila and will be rooting for them always."
DISPUTE WITH NATIONAL TEAMMATE ASHLEY LIEW
Soh won the marathon at both the 2015 and the 2017 SEA Games.
The 27-year-old was recently in the headlines over a dispute with fellow national teammate Ashley Liew, whose account of the men's marathon at the 2015 SEA Games Soh disagreed with.
Liew had been lauded for sportsmanship after he slowed down during the race to allow competitors that had taken the wrong route to catch up.
He was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy by the International Fair Play Committee in 2016 and earned special recognition from SNOC, which had nominated him for the international accolade.
READ: 'I stand for the truth' - Marathoner Soh Rui Yong on disputing Ashley Liew’s act of sportsmanship at 2015 SEA Games
Last October, Soh, who had also competed in the marathon and won gold, posted a comment on the International Fair Play Committee's Facebook page alleging that Liew's account was "untrue". He repeated this on his blog and elaborated on it in a Facebook post.
In a statement in April, SNOC said that Soh's allegations had "in effect" implied that its nomination of Liew for the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy was flawed.
The council wrote to Soh on Apr 1 to offer him the chance to view these statutory declarations and publicly retract his allegations. He declined.
During the 2017 SEA Games, Soh had a disagreement with SNOC's sponsors' blackout rule, which prohibited Team Singapore athletes from using their name for "promotional or advertising purposes" without permission. This included promoting their personal sponsors on social media.
Soh said he had missed out on a sponsorship deal with an earphone company because of the blackout rule. He also said that the rule "quite literally reduces the opportunities that athletes are exposed to".
Singapore will send its biggest away contingent of 585 athletes in 49 sports to the SEA Games, which will be held from Nov 30 to Dec 11.