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Ipswich Player Chopra, Jockey Heffernan Accused Over Race-Fixing

The British Horseracing Authority charged nine people, including one jockey and three professional soccer players, over alleged race-fixing.

Ipswich Town’s Michael Chopra, ex-Doncaster Rovers player Mark Wilson, James Coppinger of Nottingham Forest and jockey Andrew Heffernan are accused of “serious breaches of the rules of racing,” the BHA said in a statement on its website today.

The non-criminal charges follow an investigation into suspicious betting activity on races that took place between Nov. 1, 2010, and March 31, 2011, and focus on wagers on betting exchanges that horses would lose, the BHA said.

Chopra, Wilson and three others have been charged with offering bribes to Heffernan, who now rides in Australia and used to be licensed in the U.K.

Heffernan was charged with “communicating directly or indirectly to one or more betting exchange account holders” information relating to the prospects of horses in races, as well as intentionally failing to ensure that horses ridden by him were run on their merits.

The police “will be informed, but whether they pursue it or not is completely a matter for them,” BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said in an interview.

If found guilty, Heffernan may be disqualified from racing for up to 25 years, Mounsey said. The other eight may be banned from the sport, including dealing with any licensed individual connected to horse racing, for three years.

Phone calls to Ipswich Town, Nottingham Forest and the Australian Racing Board, seeking comment from those accused, weren’t picked up.

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