Chopra begins self-imposed ban from bookies in bid to tackle gambling addictionStriker in so much debt he cannot afford 50,000 legal feesHe was charged by BHA for breaching rules
12:19 GMT, 9 January 2013
15:43 GMT, 9 January 2013
Michael Chopra has banned himself from betting shops in Ipswich in a bid to sort out his gambling addiction.
The Ipswich striker admitted today he is in such bad debt he cannot afford to pay the minimum 50,000 legal fees required to get someone to represent him in a trial. He has been charged by the British Horseracing Authority for breaching their rules.
If the BHA win their case against him they can only ban him from racecourses and their gambling establishments.
Tumbling: Chopra's gambling addiction has caused serious problems
But Chopra said in a statement: ‘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.’
Chopra and eight others were charged by the BHA in October for breaching their Rules of Racing and the two-week trial begins on January 14. He is accused of placing bets for horses to lose in a five-month period between November 2010 and March 2011 using information passed on either directly or indirectly by jockey Andrew Heffernan, who is also standing trial.
Chopra was advised that even if he was found innocent he would not be refunded his legal fees for being represented in the inquiry.
Heavy debt: Chopra cannot afford to pay his legal fees
The 29-year-old added: ‘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.’
BHA responded later on Wednesday, when 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.
On trail: James Coppinger (left) and Mark Wilson (second right) are also involved
'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.'
Two other footballers, Doncaster Rovers winger James Coppinger and former Manchester United midfielder Mark Wilson, are also standing trial.