Govt not involved in decision to withhold SEA Games prize money from Schooling, Lim: MCCY
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) on Thursday distanced itself and national agency Sport Singapore from the decision to withhold Joseph Schooling and Amanda Lim's SEA Games prize money.
This comes a day after the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), which runs the MAP Awards - a Major Games Award Programme that disburses monetary rewards for the Olympic, Asian, Commonwealth and SEA Games - confirmed that the two national swimmers, who had confessed to taking cannabis, would have to wait to receive their cash bonus.
On Wednesday, the SNOC held the MAP Awards Presentation and Team Singapore Appreciation Dinner for those who competed at the Hanoi 2021 SEA Games and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The MAP is an initiative of the SNOC sponsored by the Tote Board.
Schooling, 27, won two golds and a bronze in Vietnam, while Lim, 29, bagged a gold and silver. The athletes, who would have earned $13,750 and $3,750 respectively, were absent from the ceremony at Timbre+ Eastside @ Expo.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, an MCCY spokesman said: "Neither MCCY nor Sport Singapore were involved in the review or withholding of Joseph Schooling's and Amanda Lim's receipt of the MAP awards."
The spokesman added that the MAP is a private award scheme managed and administered by the SNOC.
Answering queries on its decision, an SNOC spokesman on Thursday said: "We are currently in the course of gathering the necessary findings to ensure a fair process for the athletes involved.
"As part of the commitment of a major Games athlete, they are obliged to a stipulated code of conduct as set out in the team membership agreement. This includes the period outside of the Games period.
"Their prize money is on hold pending the outcome of the process. A decision has not been finalised at the moment."
The news that the duo's prize money was being withheld sparked a debate on social media.
Benjamin Song wrote on ST's Facebook page: "Why hold back the prize money? The prize money is a reward for their achievement during the games.
"Fully understood that their action of taking banned drugs is wrong but to hold back what was promised is not right either. If (it) is temporary, holding back (the prize money) is acceptable but we should not rob them of their achievement."
Another user Geraldine Loh said: "Please give them the money rewards due to them. They would have had to go through drug tests during competition and since there was no issue - give them their rewards."
A fortnight ago, it came to light that the pair had been investigated by the Central Narcotics Bureau for possible offences related to the consumption of cannabis.
Former Olympic champion Schooling had confessed to consuming cannabis when in Vietnam for the SEA Games in May.
He has been dealt with by the Ministry of Defence as he is undergoing National Service and the incident occurred while he was on short-term disruption due to the Hanoi Games. Lim was issued a stern warning by the CNB under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Both tested negative for controlled drugs but issued apologies for their mistakes.
The SNOC will be convening a disciplinary committee to look into their cases.
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