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Oct, 4, 2012

Footballers charged over race-fixing

Ipswich Town striker Michael Chopra is one of three footballers in a group of nine people charged after an investigation into suspicious betting activity in horse racing.

Chopra, James Coppinger, who is currently on loan at Nottingham Forest, and unattached former Oxford midfielder Mark Wilson are the three footballers.

The allegations surround horses being laid to lose on betting exchanges, with the charges brought following a British Horseracing Authority (BHA) investigation. It is also alleged that a jockey was offered bribes.

Chopra, Coppinger and Wilson have been charged with conspiracy to "commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice", while Chopra and Wilson are also charged with offering bribes.

If found guilty, all three will face a ban from all involvement with racing for at least three years.

It is alleged that jockey Andrew Heffernan passed information to Chopra and the others charged, and that they used it to lay horses to lose on betting exchanges.

Striker Chopra has previously spoken of his gambling addiction, which he said has cost him more than £1.5 million, and for which he has received treatment.

Last year, he said: "Your first bet's your worst bet. As the years have come along and I've earned more money, I've started to gamble more. I was gambling up to £20,000 a day at times.

"As a gambler, you want to be playing to get the appearance money. I was playing through injury to cover a debt."

The BHA said the investigation had been "long and complicated" and that it hoped news of the charges "demonstrates our commitment to deterring and detecting wrongdoing".

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