Michael Chopra and James Coppinger found guilty in corruption investigation

 

Footballers Michael Chopra and James Coppinger have been found in breach of the Rules of Racing following the outcome of a British Horseracing Authority investigation into alleged corruption.

Chopra was found in breach of committing corrupt and fraudulent practices and offering a bribe, while Coppinger was found guilty of corrupt and fraudulent practices.

At the centre of the investigation were charges relating to former Flat jockey Andrew Heffernan, who has most recently been riding in Australia.

Heffernan was found in breach of all charges brought against him by a BHA disciplinary panel, which published its results on Friday after a hearing that started on January 14 and lasted four days.

Along with Ipswich striker Chopra and Doncaster midfielder Coppinger, former England Under-21 international Mark Wilson was another to face charges.

Wilson, like Chopra, was found in breach of committing corrupt and fraudulent practices and offering a bribe.

The allegations centred on horses being laid to lose on betting exchanges in races that took place between November 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.

The charges related to Heffernan's riding of three horses - Wanchai Whisper, Gallantry and Silver Guest.

Five other individuals - Paul Garner, Yogesh Joshee, Douglas Shelley, Kelly Inglis and Pravin Shingardia - were also found in breach.

The BHA said that all charges brought against those involved in the case were successful.

Heffernan was charged with communicating directly or indirectly to one or more betting exchange account holders information relating to the prospects in the race of that horse.

He was also charged with giving information in return for some reward, that he offered to receive or received a bribe, and that he intentionally failed to ensure that a horse ridden by him was run on its merits.

Chopra, Garner, Joshee, Shelley and Wilson were charged with offering bribes to Heffernan.

Inglis was also charged with conspiring with Heffernan to offer to receive bribes from Chopra, Garner, Joshee, Shelley and Wilson.

Garner was also charged with placing lay bets on horses at a time when he was entered as a stable employee.

Penalties for those involved are expected to be announced later this afternoon by the BHA's disciplinary panel following further hearings.

Speaking earlier this month, Chopra said he could not afford to pay the £50,000 legal fees to defend himself during the inquiry.

The 29-year-old former Cardiff forward also said he would welcome any BHA-imposed sanctions as he attempts to cure a gambling addiction.

He said: "It is well publicised that I have a gambling addiction problem and I see any such sanctions as being a useful mechanism in helping me to address these problems.

"As of this year, I've voluntarily excluded myself from all betting institutions from where I live in Ipswich in order to help me fight this illness."

Ipswich Town press manager Steve Pearce said in a statement issued to Press Association Sport: "This is a private matter between Michael and the British Horseracing Authority.

"Michael issued a statement before the inquiry began stating his reasons why he would not be appearing in front of the BHA.

"He has nothing further to add to that statement at this stage and wants to concentrate on an important game at Bristol City at the weekend."

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