Ashley Liew, ONEathlete

Media Response – Jun 2019

18 JUN 2019 – In October 2018, Soh Rui Yong alleged that Ashley Liew did not slow down during the 2015 SEA Games marathon race.

RECAPITULATE
SNOC has independently investigated and collated four statutory declarations, which Soh had not made any efforts to view, despite the option to do so. Soh has continued with his allegations , and  challenged Ashley to raise the issue before the courts.
– We responded on 21 Oct 2018 to media queries. In spite of this, Soh continued to maintain his allegations insinuating that Ashley had lied.
– Following SNOC’s ‘retract and withdraw’ letter to Soh, and Soh’s non-compliance, we responded on 02 Apr 2019 to media queries. We mentioned that we were examining all legal options available to ONEathlete, Ashley Liew in view of these developments.
– On 09 Apr 2019 to media queries, ONEathlete pointed out that Soh had ignored facts, material evidence and witnesses, but chose to make a fundamental and ‘safe’ shift in position.


SOH CONTINUES HIS ALLEGATIONS

Soh was given various opportunities to retract his repeated allegations and apologise. Even with a legal notice served by various parties, he still had several opportunities from October 2018 to June 2019. He has chosen not to retract his allegations, and in fact, had escalated his allegations on Ashley.


ASHLEY’S STATEMENT POST-COMMENCEMENT OF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

There is nothing ideal about an athlete suing another. Ashley’s predisposition is to avoid conflict and controversy, but where it comes to allegations against his honour and integrity, he has no choice but to make a firm stand:

On 8 April 2019 I said to the press that “I cannot remain silent anymore”.

Since then, I had attempted to negotiate an amicable settlement with Soh with the assistance of my lawyer, Mr Mark Teng of That.Legal LLC. I am advised that I may not disclose the details of our without prejudice negotiations. However, I wish to say that it is regretful that Soh has adamantly maintained his position and refused to apologise and retract his defamatory statements.

Soh’s unwillingness to retract his statements is obvious from the series of social media posts that Soh had caused to be published about me and this incident. Some examples of what Soh posted on social media after my first cease and desist letter are as follows:
On 9 April 2019, Soh declared on his social media channels that he will “now battle [me] for the truth of the 2015 SEA Games Marathon”;
On 12 April 2019, Soh posted on his social media channels after receiving That.Legal LLC’s letter that he was “amount  to reply with a 1-page legal letter to say no” even before his lawyers had a chance to send their formal response;
On 10 May 2019, after receiving my lawyer’s letter Soh posted again on his social media channels that he would be responding to “say no” again before his lawyers had a chance to send their formal response;
On 26 May 2019, Soh made posts on his social media channels calling me an idiot who took the chance to make up a hero story in his post titled “42 Reasons why I HATE Running Marathons #21 to #30” [See page 20 of the SOC]:
When #23 happens you might have idiots who take the chance to make up a hero story about slowing down to wait for others as an excuse for that’s why they didn’t win, then send you lawyer’s letters when you call their bullshit and embarrass them publicly

I wake up every morning striving to be the best that I can be. I hold the values of honesty and integrity in high regard. Soh’s actions on social media have caused Singaporeans to question my integrity and that crosses the line. Soh’s false statements and aggravating comments have not only hurt my feelings but also disparaged my reputation.

In light of the foregoing, I feel that I have no choice but to ask the Court to vindicate my reputation.

– Ashley Liew, National Marathoner (ONEathlete)


FURTHER ACTION

ONEathlete supports Ashley Liew for the truth he deserves and legal options that were offered to him. The Statement of Claim (SOC) and a summary for the SOC will be made available to the members of the press, upon request.

ONEathlete also understands that SNOC has reserved all legal rights against Soh, unlike what the latter had claimed on his social media platforms.

Regards,
ONEathlete Team

Ashley Liew, ONEathlete

Media Response II – Apr 2019

09 Apr 2019 – In October 2018, Soh Rui Yong alleged that Ashley Liew did not slow down during the 2015 SEA Games marathon race.

SUMMARY OF EVENTS:

IGNORING THE FACTS

Soh had accused ONEathlete of ‘using personal attacks rather than sticking to facts’ on a Today Sports social media post on 02 April 2019. Despite the availability of sworn statements from witnesses in the form of the Statutory Declarations that were available for Soh’s review upon request, he has decided to ignore them and maintain his allegations against Ashley.

  • In 2015, Soh had won the 2015 SEA Games Marathon Gold. Ashley hung on to finish 8th.
  • In Oct 2018, Soh called himself a champion of the ‘truth’ by calling Ashley a liar. On 26 Oct 2018, Soh reiterated that Ashley was “conjuring, exaggerating, and circulating a fictional tale of sportsmanship … ”, Ashley chose to de-escalate.
  • In Apr 2019, Soh ignored witnesses’ sworn-in statements that contradicted his ‘truth’, and called Ashley a liar, again.
  • In Apr 2019, Soh refused to retract his allegations. He brands himself as the ‘rebel’ who won’t be intimidated and will see this as an opportunity to stick it out and make his point.

All this while, Ashley was faced with questions and doubted by many for doing the right thing during the race.  

MATERIAL EVIDENCE & WITNESSES

In response to suggestions that we provide GPS watch data from the race, unfortunately, Ashley was using a Timex analog (non-GPS watch) during the 2015 SEA Games Marathon, and up till Jan 2018.

ONEathlete understands that as of Oct 2018, no video evidence of the 2015 SEA Games Marathon race was available. The event was also not broadcasted. The existence of the statutory declarations containing the accounts of eyewitnesses as to what had transpired during the race is therefore of material significance, since these accounts not only form the best available evidence, but there would be no reason to doubt the credibility and accuracy of these independent, third party accounts given that it is an offence to make a false statement under the Oath and Declarations Act (Cap. 211).

Excerpt from 02 Apr 2019: Unlike those whom Soh claims to be his witnesses (such as Philippines athlete, Rafael Roliquit Jr, who had received coaching advice from Soh, as well as, two other individuals who were Soh’s coaches), we understand that these four individuals are independent witnesses who were prepared to and did, in fact, make sworn statements of what they saw during the race.That is the material difference – anyone can say anything you want on social media and get away with untruths and lies, but not so when you make statutory declarations.

We disagree with Soh’s suggestion that the witnesses’ statutory declaration lacks credibility. The 4 witnesses’ identities have not been publicly revealed, but they are far from nameless individuals. Soh does not even appear to be interested in who they are of what they have said since he has so far ignored SNOC’s offer to view the statutory declarations.

SHIFT IN POSITION

Soh had shifted his stance between Oct 2018 and April 2019. In Oct 2018, Soh definitively alleged that ‘Ashley did not slow down’. But in Apr 2019, he downplayed his allegations and claimed he ‘did not see Ashley slowing down’. The shift, while subtle, is significant and non-accidental. We believe that as a learned individual, Soh is aware of the difference implied in these two statements.  

EXERCISING LEGAL OPTIONS

“From a personal standpoint, I have not responded publicly to something like this because it is not my nature to fan any controversy. To me, staying silent on the matter was an exercise in de-escalation, not an admission of guilt.
However, with the insinuations continuing, I cannot remain silent anymore. I believe it is time to speak up and clear the air.”
– Ashley Liew, National Marathoner (ONEathlete)

Through his lawyer, Mark Teng of That.Legal LLC, Ashley Liew has sent a cease and desist letter requesting, amongst other things, that Soh retracts his statements and make a public apology.

It has been a challenging period and the decision, a tough one, for Ashley. However, no one should take his kindness for weakness. ONEathlete supports Ashley’s decision to seek the justice he deserves.

We hope that Soh will co-operate with SNOC’s and Ashley’s lawyers, to resolve this matter as amicably as possible and put this unnecessary matter to rest.

Regards,
ONEathlete Team

Ashley Liew, ONEathlete

Media Response – Apr 2019

02 Apr 2019 – In October 2018, Soh Rui Yong alleged that Ashley Liew did not slow down during the 2015 SEA Games marathon race. We responded on 21 Oct 2018 to media queries. In spite of this, Soh continued to maintain his allegations insinuating that Ashley had lied.

Soh’s allegations

Soh’s allegations had unfairly cast doubt over ONEathlete, Ashley Liew’s repute as an individual, working professional and national athlete, as well as, the merit and integrity of nominating Ashley for and eventual award of the Pierre de Coubertin World Fair Play Trophy in 2016.

Back then, we decided not to respond further to Soh’s incessant aspersions in kind because we do not stand for, nor identify with, such regrettable behaviour from a fellow athlete.

SNOC’s Letter

We note that the SNOC has served a lawyer’s letter to Soh to “publicly retract and withdraw” his allegations, in light of sworn statutory declarations made by various individuals who had witnessed Ashley slowing down to allow the other runners to catch up during the race.

We are grateful to the SNOC for working through the due processes to follow up with and provide greater clarity on this matter. We are also deeply appreciative of the four honourable individuals who have stepped forward with sworn declarations to stand for what they deeply believe in and know is right.

Unlike those whom Soh claims to be his witnesses (such as Philippines athlete, Rafael Roliquit Jr, who had received coaching advice from Soh, as well as, two other individuals who were Soh’s coaches), we understand that these four individuals are independent witnesses who were prepared to and did in fact make sworn statements of what they saw during the race.

That is the material difference – anyone can say anything you want on social media and get away with untruths and lies, but not so when you make statutory declarations.

Soh’s NON-COMPLIANCE

Based on media reports, Soh has decided not to retract and withdraw his false allegations against Ashley,  and has instead sought to aggravate matters by repeating his allegations in his social media postings.

If the truth is really what Soh seeks, we believe the best way to achieve that would be for Soh to co-operate with the SNOC and its lawyers, and to seek clarity with the SNOC in an amicable manner. It is clear that even when confronted with 4 statutory declarations from witnesses whose accounts contradicts Soh’s allegations, Soh has chosen to turn a blind eye to these sworn-in and factual accounts by insisting that his allegations represent “nothing but the truth”.

Such an approach by Soh only serves as an aggravating factor to his initial conduct of falsely accusing another athlete of lying, and in so doing, has brought the sport into disrepute. Soh’s refusal to retract his false allegations in the face of the 4 statutory declarations is an extension of his willful act of blatant disregard, poor sportsmanship and improper conduct which goes against Singapore Athletics’ Athlete’s Code of Conduct.  

ONEathlete continues to stand by our earlier response on 21 Oct 2018, and
will defer to SNOC’s processes that are ongoing at the moment. We will also examine all legal options available to Ashley in light of current developments.


ONEathlete Team

Breaking 3s & PBs @ Seoul Marathon 2019

17 March 2019 – Despite earlier scares over a dense haze that had descended upon Seoul and cast race prospects in shrouds, ONEathlete Evan Chee and Ashley Liew, and many other Singaporean runners assembled with great hopes for their season-opening race.

Singaporeans assembled in Seoul

First held in 1931, Seoul Marathon is the second oldest in the world after Boston Marathon. The IAAF gold label race is famous for its flat and fast course, with a men’s course record of 2:05:13 set by 4-time winner at this event, Wilson Loyanae of Kenya. Typically held in mid March, the cooling starting conditions of about 4 degrees and 8am start time makes it one of the preferred races for runners looking to lower their personal bests.

At this year’s Dong-A Ilbo Seoul International Marathon, Kenya Men and Women dominated as Thomas Kiplagat RONO won the men’s race in 2:05:56 under hazy conditions. While temperatures were near freezing at the start (- 1 degrees Celsius), the cloudless skies and light winds made for otherwise near-perfect conditions to race in.

Photo from Seoul Marathon 2019 English Page

Evan Chee, who finished 4th at the 2018 Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, crossed the line in 2:41:01 – a new personal best and M35 category Marathon Record (pending Singapore Athletics’ ratification) – while Ashley succumbed to leg fatigue to finish in 3:08:57. The latter eventually managed to join in with the rest at the finish to celebrate his fellow ONEathlete’s achievement.

“I’m very happy. It was a fast course and I was fortunate to have good company along the way. Though the haze was a bit annoying, I am pleased with my performance this early in the season and hope to build on this over the next few months” Evan said, adding that he hoped to qualify for the 2019 SEA Games marathon which would be held in Philippines in November. The 38-year old Men’s veteran marathoner was recently nominated to the Singapore National Team (TeamSG) along with his marathoner sister, Yvonne Elizabeth Chee.

The seasoned marathoner usually competes in 3 – 4 marathons a year. However, with a relatively short 13 weeks between SCSM and Seoul Marathon, Evan incorporated longer tempo trainings and slightly less mileage. This regular review of training approach based on race results (and experience) has been part of Evan’s repertoire ever since he started running competitively. While it is nearly impossible to get everything perfect at your first attempt, he believes that every race can be seen as an experiment of one that we can learn from and improve. The Adidas Ambassador is currently training under Coach Steven Quek.

Also spotted in Seoul: A Team of Singapore Shufflers displaying their racing prowess with a number of them finishing close to the 2 hour 45min mark. Jason Tan who narrowly missed his sub-3 hour timing at SCSM2018 just couple months ago, crossed the line in 2:45:05. His team mate, and young talent Daniel Leow, followed closely behind with a 2:45:43 finish. Other runners prolific in the Singapore running circuit, Andy Neo and Hiroto Ogawa finished in 2:49:01 and 2:50:30 respectively. RunONE’s in-house editor, Lester Tan, or more commonly known by his handle @runningtan, finished with a new personal best of 2:57:16 to join the sub-3 club.

Red dot in Seoul

But the icing on the cake for Singapore was the new Marathon National Marathon Record as national marathoner Soh Rui Yong finished in 2:23:42. “It took a few years of work and I finally found the race and opportunity to do it, so I’m definitely happy with that,” Soh told The Straits Times.

The previous record was set by Murugaiah Rameshon at the 1995 SEA Games which was held at Chiangmai, Thailand. (Soh had previously claimed, on his website, to have broken the 1995 record, with his Chicago Marathon 2016 timing of 2:24:55.)

Photo from Pocari Singapore Facebook

As a IAAF gold label race, Seoul Marathon had delivered on expectations. Although the pre-race registration process was slightly challenging for international runners due to language barriers, the race was well organised, with adequately spaced drink stations serving Pocari and water, as well as full road blockage to ensure the IAAF Gold Label standards were upheld.

More than 37,000 took part in the 2019 edition of the race which winds through the streets of Seoul before ending in the Seoul Olympic stadium that played host to the games during the 1988 Summer Olympics.

ONE would also like to express its gratitude to The Singapore Embassy in Seoul, Korea and Ambassador Yip for hosting the ONEathlete team earlier this week.

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