Doncater Rovers star Coppinger’s betting shame

Found guilty: James Coppinger  placed his largest ever bet on horse to lose at Lingfield.
Found guilty: James Coppinger placed his largest ever bet on horse to lose at Lingfield.
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DONCASTER Rovers’ longest-serving player James Coppinger has been banned from tracks for three years after being caught up in a racing corruption plot.

The 32-year-old winger was found guilty of using inside information from a team mate to bet on a horse to lose a race while being ridden by a corrupt jockey in January 2011.

Ex-Rovers midfielder Mark Wilson, who won thousands of pounds, was also found guilty by the British Horseracing Authority of using the same information, and bribing apprentice jockey Andrew Heffernan.

He was disqualified for 10 years.

The bans mean they cannot enter any racecourse in the UK or have dealings with anyone involved in racing, such as jockeys, stable lads and trainers.

Coppinger, who recently made his 300th league appearance for the Rovers after completing a loan spell at Nottingham Forest, was said to have placed his largest ever bet, on Wanchai Whisper, to lose at Lingfield when it was ridden by Heffernan, who stopped the horse during the race.

He and Wilson, aged 33, now playing for Gainsborough Trinity, were among nine people found guilty by the BHA of breaching the rule which provides that a person who conspires with any other person to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice acts in breach of the Rules of Racing.

A stable lad at a racing yard was said to have passed information to his friends, including Wilson - who gave Coppinger the tip - and Cardiff City footballer Michael Chopra, who has previously admitted to a serious gambling addiction.

The footballers were found to have placed bets using inside information provided by Heffernan.

In some cases, thousands of pounds were staked.

While Wilson made more than £14,000 profit from four bets, he also lost £12,122 in one wager when a horse he backed to be unplaced actually finished second.

The disciplinary panel ruled the jockey, who now races in Australia, did not ride the horses on their merits to obtain the best finishing position possible.

Heffernan was banned from racing for 15 years.

Before the hearing, Heffernan denied the charges but on the second day he admitted limited breaches and gave evidence.

At the conclusion of the hearing, he gave detailed written submissions.

Coppinger, a Rovers player since 2004, assisted by Professional Footballers’ Association solicitors, said he only placed one set of lay bets against Wanchai Whisper on the basis of a tip from Wilson.

He did not attend the hearing.

Wilson’s solicitors argued the former Manchester United player was not subject to the Rules of Racing, and could not therefore be in breach.