Soh Rui Yong to Pay Former Teammate $180K for Defamation


I know what you’re thinking: wah, this guy has to pay nearly S$200,000 just because he maligned the running skills of athletes doing a 2.4km run?

Well, nope. This has nothing to do with Soh Rui Yong’s challenge to Singaporeans to run 2.4km faster than he did. You can read more about that here. 

It appears that Soh had hit the headlines long before setting his record-breaking 2.4km timing. Like two years ago.

In case you forgot, here’s what happened:

Claimed Teammate’s Act of Sportsmanship Was “Untrue”

The controversy stemmed from an act of sportsmanship that took place during the 2015 SEA Games.

During one of the athletics events at the Games in which Soh was participating, his teammate Ashley Liew noticed that the other 12 runners has missed a U-turn and taken the wrong route, which is why he had a 50m lead.

Instead of racing toward the finish line, Liew slowed down so his rivals could catch up with him.

In the end, Soh won the race, while Liew came in eighth.

For his sporting act, Liew was awarded the International Fair Play Committee’s (CIFP) Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy in 2016.

Sounds like a nice, heartwarming story, right? Well, this tale had a twist that even M. Night Shyamalan would be proud of.

In a Facebook post that detailed Liew’s sporting act and his Fairplay award, Soh claimed that the story of Liew’s sporting act was “untrue”.

Image: Facebook (International Fair Play Committee)

“I was third place in that race when we took the wrong turn. When we turned around perhaps 50m into the wrong turn, Ashley was already running in the other direction. We took quite a while to catch up to him (about 7 minutes), he certainly did not stop or slow down to wait for us whatsoever,” Soh claimed.

He asserts that there’s no evidence that about the “supposed act of sportsmanship”.

“As for missing a medal because of this act – Ashley gained maximum 20-30 seconds when the leaders ran an extra 100m due to the wrong turn. He finished eighth in 2:44:02, while bronze on the day was 2:37:10 (6min and 52sec behind). Saying that this act cost him a medal is disrespectful to the efforts of the bronze medalist of the day, Hoang Nguyen Thanh of Vietnam,” he said.

Soh said he didn’t say anything in 2015 because he thought his teammate “just had a bad race and needed something to feel better about his performance.”

Unfortunately for Soh, a district court didn’t see it that way.


Soh Rui Yong to Pay Former Teammate $180K for Defamation

In June 2018, Liew filed proceedings against Soh, asking the court to compel Soh to remove all his statements over the matter.

He has also requested that Soh issue a public apology.

The long-running dispute was finally settled today, with a district court ordering Soh to pay Liew S$180,000 for defamation, including S$120,000 in general damages and S$60,000 in aggravated damages.

In the trial, Liew called upon four witnesses, including a runner in the race and two observers. Soh called on his former coach, father, and friend.

Witnesses had conflicting accounts of what happened, but the judge deemed Liew’s evidence to be more “objective and consistent” than Soh’s.


The judge said that Soh’s statements were “clearly an attack on Liew’s integrity and credibility”, and if believed by the public, would mean that Liew lacked integrity.

Soh stuck to his story right to the end, however, as evident in a Facebook post this morning before he received his verdict: “To this day I stand by what I said – because it is what I witnessed that day and I would never testify to anything else. I have absolutely no reason to lie,” he said.

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Featured Image: Facebook (Soh Rui Yong; International Fair Play Committee)