Footballer Michael Chopra ‘can’t afford to face BHA probe’

Ipswich footballer Michael Chopra says he can’t afford to defend his name at a British Horseracing Authority (BHA) corruption inquiry on Monday.

The striker and jockey Andrew Heffernan were among nine people charged in October with breaches of the rules of racing but Chopra said in a statement: “Even if I’m found innocent, the BHA will not refund my legal fees, which I have been advised would be at least £50,000. I simply can not afford the amount of money necessary to clear my name. The only sanction the BHA could impose is to ban me from racecourses and gambling establishments 
licensed by it. It is well publicised that I have a gambling addiction. I’ve self-excluded myself from all betting institutions where I live to help me fight this illness. For the above reasons, I have decided not to present myself to the BHA inquiry.”

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The BHA’s Robin Mounsey said: “The charges 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.”