Ipswich Town: Blues ace Michael Chopra charged with race fixing

IPSWICH Town striker Michael Chopra has been charged with race fixing by the British Horseracing Authority.

The Blues centre forward is one of three footballers accused of conspiring to fix races between November 1, 2010 and March 2011.

the 28-year-old signed for Ipswich in June 2011.

Chopra is alleged to have conspired with Nottingham Forest midfielder James Coppinger, and former Manchester United and England under-21 international Mark Wilson, currently unattached, and jockey Andrew Heffernen to fix races.

Chopra, Wilson and Coppinger - who was a former Town target - are all charged with conspiring to “commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice” under the rules of racing.

If found guilty of the charges they face long bans from involvement with racing, including attending racecourses or talking to licensed individuals. The entry-level for the offences is a three-year ban.

Heffernan, who is now based in Australia, faces five charges of corruption, including one of stopping a horse, one of accepting a bribe and two of breaking the rules regarding the use of inside information

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Chopra, Coppinger and Wilson are alleged to have been part of a fixing operation that also included five other individuals not licensed under the rules of racing.

The charges follow an investigation into suspicious betting activity on a number of races by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

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

Chopra has a long-standing gambling addiction and, in Ocotber last year, spoke of his struggle to overcome his habit.

Paul Scotney, the BHA’s integrity, compliance and licensing director, said: “The charges BHA has issued are the result of a long and complicated investigation. This process has taken significant time and resources.

“However, investigations such as these are very similar to fraud investigations and as such are complex and time consuming. Furthermore, we encountered difficulties in obtaining telephone records from certain individuals who refused to co-operate.

“This resulted in us having to make a number of applications to the High Court for orders against their mobile telephone service providers for disclosure of the relevant records. We hope that the announcement demonstrates our commitment to deterring and detecting wrong-doing and taking action against those who we believe to have breached the rules.

“However, race-goers and those betting on British Racing should be reassured that instances of this nature are extremely rare and that the overwhelming majority of races are free of suspicion.”

It is understood the police have been kept informed of the BHA’s investigation but no criminal charges have been announced.