The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has suspended Andrew Heffernan for 15 years after determining the young jockey was involved in race fixing from Nov. 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011.
The BHA announced penalties for the 24-year-old rider Jan. 25. Heffernan actually received two 15-year suspensions but he will be able to serve them concurrently. Heffernan had most recently competed in Australia before he was suspended there pending the outcome of the BHA investigation.
According to an eight-page BHA report released Jan. 24, Heffernan is the only license holder among nine people found guilty in the case of fixing nine low-level races in which Heffernan's losing horses were bet to lose on betting exchanges. The charges specifically cited Heffernan's riding of three horses: Wanchai Whisper, Gallantry and Silver Guest.
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 accept or received a bribe, and that he intentionally failed to ensure horses ridden by him raced on their merits.
Three of the other eight people found guilty of race fixing by the BHA are professional soccer players. Ipswich striker Michael Chopra and former Manchester United midfielder Mark Wilson were found guilty of offering bribes to Heffernan. The two players, as well as Doncaster midfielder James Coppinger, also were found guilty of placing bets on information provided by Heffernan that his horse would lose.
"It is well publicized 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," Chopra said during the investigation. "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."
Chopra and Wilson were found in breach of committing corrupt and fraudulent practices and offering bribes, while Coppinger was found guilty of corrupt and fraudulent practices. Chopra and Wilson received 10-year disqualifications, meaning they cannot attend races, visit stables, or be in contact with racing license holders. Coppinger received a three-year disqualification.
Also found guilty on charges related to the case following a four-day hearing were Paul Garner, Kelly Inglis, Yogesh Joshee, Douglas Shelley, and Pravin Shingadia.
``The findings of the disciplinary panel confirm that an elaborate network of corruption has been identified and successfully prosecuted,'' said Adam Brickell, the director of integrity, legal and risk of the BHA. ``Investigations of this scale are extremely complex, especially when we are faced with a lack of cooperation, evasion, and untruthful accounts from many of those being investigated.''