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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Chopra disqualified for 10 yearsHeadlines
Michael Chopra

Footballers Michael Chopra and James Coppinger have been disqualified for 10 and three years respectively after being found in breach of the Rules of Racing following a BHA investigation into alleged corruption.

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

The disqualifications mean neither Chopra nor Coppinger can attend licensed racing premises such as racecourses or stables during the period of their bans, or have contact with licensed persons.

At the centre of the investigation were charges relating to former British-based Flat jockey Andrew Heffernan, who has been disqualified for 15 years. The BHA hit the 24-year-old with two 15-year bans, but they will run concurrently.

Heffernan, who has most recently been riding in Australia, 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 Town striker Chopra and Doncaster Rovers midfielder Coppinger, former England Under-21 international Mark Wilson also faced charges. He was found guilty of committing corrupt and fraudulent practices and offering a bribe and was disqualified for 10 years. Five other individuals were also banned.

The inquiry 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.

Speaking earlier in the 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 City 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."

Heffernan was charged with communicating directly or indirectly to one or more betting exchange account holders information relating to prospects in a race, with giving information in return for reward, that he offered to receive or received a bribe, and that he intentionally failed to ensure a horse ridden by him was run on its merits.

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