Andrew Heffernan: jockey banned for 15 years for his part in conspiracyPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Heffernan given 15-year ban in corruption case
JOCKEY Andrew Heffernan's career appeared to have come to a premature end on Friday afternoon after he was disqualified for 15 years after being found guilty of BHA corruption charges.
Heffernan and three professional footballers were among nine people found guilty of a raft of charges following the latest corruption inquiry to cast a shadow over British racing.
The disciplinary panel met on Friday afternoon and handed out bans totalling more than 70 years with Heffernan, who rode 96 winners in the UK before moving to Australia in 2011, given the stiffest penalty of all the conspirators.
As well as a 15-year ban for conspiring with others to commit a corrupt and fraudulent practice, Heffernan got a ban of the same length, to run concurrently, for intentionally failing to ensure a horse ran on its merits.
Footballer Michael Chopra, an Ipswich Town striker, was disqualified for ten years for conspiring with others to commit a corrupt and fraudulent practice. Fellow footballer Mark Wilson, a former England under-21 international, was also disqualified for ten years, while James Coppinger, the third professional footballer involved in the case, was disqualified for three years.
Registered stable employees Paul Garner and Kelly Inglis were disqualified for 12½ years and four years respectively, with three others also disqualified.
A statement from the BHA said: "The findings of the disciplinary panel confirm that an elaborate network of corruption has been identified and successfully prosecuted by the BHA. This has resulted in nine individuals being disqualified or excluded from our sport for a combined total of over 70 years.
"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. It is as a result of significant hard work that a successful conclusion has been achieved, and further evidence that the BHA is prepared to properly investigate cases involving unlicensed as well as licensed individuals. We are also grateful for the assistance provided by various betting operators and the Gambling Commission in gathering the evidence required to prove these serious breaches.
"While we remain confident the overwhelming majority of races which take place in Britain are free of any suspicion, this case highlights that we can never be complacent in our efforts to maintain the integrity of British racing and to educate those involved with the sport, including the betting public, about the misuse of information."
The charges followed a BHA investigation into nine races at Britain's four all-weather tracks between November 2010 and March 2011 in which Heffernan's beaten mounts were laid to lose on betting exchanges.
In the case of three of those rides, he was accused of "intentionally" failing to ensure the horses ran on their merits.
Heffernan was suspended from riding by Racing New South Wales last October when the organisation was alerted to the race-fixing investigation, and although he is no longer licensed by the BHA, his disqualification will be reciprocated by all major racing authorities worldwide.