No BHA defence for Chopra

  • Last Updated: January 9 2013, 15:02 GMT

Ipswich striker Michael Chopra claims he cannot afford to defend his name when a British Horseracing Authority panel begins its inquiry into alleged corruption on January 14.

Michael Chopra cannot afford to defend his name

Chopra and jockey Andrew Heffernan were amongst nine individuals charged in October with serious breaches with regard to the rules of racing.

Two other footballers, Mark Wilson and James Coppinger, were also named in the probe.

But Chopra said in a statement he cannot afford to cover his legal costs when the BHA starts proceedings later this month.

He said: "On October 4, 2012, the British Horseracing Authority announced that they were charging me and others with breaches of the rules of horseracing.

"The charges are due to be heard at a two-week inquiry, which commences on the January 14, 2013.

"My legal advisors, having engaged with the British Horseracing Authority, have been advised that even if I'm found innocent of the charges, the British Horseracing Authority will not refund my legal fees, which I have been advised would be at least £50,000 for being represented at the inquiry.

"I have extensive debts and loans and simply cannot afford the amount of money necessary to clear my name, with no prospects of ever recovering my costs.

"I am not a member of the British Horseracing Authority and not subject to its Rules.

"I have been advised that the British Horseracing Authority is only allowed under its Rules to take disciplinary action against a person who is subject to those Rules, which does not include me.

"Furthermore, I understand that the only sanction that the British Horseracing Authority could impose on me is to ban me from racecourses and gambling establishments licensed by it.

"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 self-excluded myself from all betting institutions from where I live in Ipswich in order to help me fight this illness.

"For the above reasons, I have decided not to present myself to the BHA inquiry.

"I will be making no further comment on this matter at this stage."

BHA media manager Robin Mounsey said: "The charges being brought by the BHA against Michael Chopra are serious and relate to conspiring with other persons to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice, and offering bribes to a licensed person.

"It is the BHA's role to protect the integrity of the sport from corrupt practices from both licensed and unlicensed individuals.

"As such, via a disciplinary panel, the BHA is able to impose sanctions upon individuals not bound by the Rules of racing, which include exclusion from entering any licensed premises or having dealings with any licensed person regarding horseracing.

"The BHA will not comment further on this investigation until the hearing has been completed and the disciplinary panel has published its findings."