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Poll: Ipswich Town star Chopra branded a liar after inquiry finds he was involved in fixing horse races

PUBLISHED: 15:21 25 January 2013 | UPDATED: 16:28 25 January 2013

Michael Chopra.

Michael Chopra.

Archant

TOWN striker Michael Chopra has been warned off racecourses for 10 years today after being branded a liar by the British Horseracing Authority.

Chopra was found to have been part of a conspiracy involving corruption and betting exchanges by a BHA disciplinary panel.

In addition to being warned off the 29-year-old can not associate with anyone licensed by the BHA.

Eight other people including former jockey Andrew Heffernan were found to be part of the race-fixing conspiracy. Heffernan has been warned off for 15 years. The others have been disqualified for various terms from three to 12-and-a-half years.

The inquiry stated Chopra’s interviews to investigators consisted of lies, which were exposed to be “utterly untrue”.

Chopra was found in breach of committing corrupt and fraudulent practices and offering a bribe, while fellow footballer Doncaster’s James Coppinger was found guilty of corrupt and fraudulent practices.

Former England Under-21s international Mark Wilson was found in breach of committing corrupt and fraudulent practices and offering a bribe.

Five other individuals - including Chopra’s former agent Yogesh Joshee, Paul Garner, Douglas Shelley, Kelly Inglis and Pravin Shingardia - were also found in breach of the rules of racing.

The BHA disciplinary panel’s findings state: “It was plain beyond doubt to the panel that Chopra was fully engaged in the conspiracy. He did not attend the enquiry or even send in some indication of his defence in writing. Thus, his only contribution was in the interviews he gave to the BHA Investigators.

“Much of what he said in those interviews consisted of lies. His denial of knowing Heffernan or of ever speaking to him was exposed as utterly untrue.

“Chopra engaged in the conspiracy, but the allegation that he offered bribes to Heffernan was also made good.”

Heffernan was also found to have committed various offences relating to race-fixing.

The penalties against Heffernan and Chopra will be decided at a hearing which has now begun.

Chopra, who was named under his full name of Rocky Michael Chopra, had been accused of conspiring to commit fraud by placing bets or getting other betting exchange account holders to bet on horses ridden by Andrew Heffernan to gain an unfair advantage in the betting market.

Chopra also faced an allegation of offering a bribe to Heffernan.

The two horses involved in Chopra’s case were Wanchai Whisper and Silver Guest.

The alleged offences were said to have happened between November 1, 2010, and March 31, 2011, which was before Chopra joined Ipswich Town.

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

All nine were accused of conspiring with other persons to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice.

Chopra did not appear at the four-day hearing, which began on January 14 at BHA headquarters in London.

There is no indication at this stage that any disciplinary action will be taken against the striker by Ipswich Town Football Club.

Steve Pearce, Press Manager at ITFC, said: “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.”

To read the full BHA report findings log on to;

www.britishhorseracing.presscentre.com/Press-Releases/Result-and-Reasons-of-Disciplinary-Panel-hearing-regarding-Andrew-Heffernan-et-al-363.aspx

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