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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 06:11 GMT 07:11 UK
At the heart of the matter
Andy Davies, of Panorama, (left) and Roger Buffham, the Jockey Club's former head of security
Davies (left) and Buffham raised a series of issues
The BBC's Panorama claims to expose what it calls the "corruption of racing", making a series of allegations against the sport's regulators, the Jockey Club, leading jockeys and bookmakers.

The two main allegations concern race-fixing and free betting on the sport.

BBC Sport Online explains the two main talking points and hears arguments from both sides.


Race-fixing claims

Notoriously difficult to prove, at least 20 jockeys have played a part in race-fixing, according to Panorama.

Some have been accused of taking money to alter the course of races and deliberately not trying.

While others have reportedly taken part in doping.


Intelligence and information we had was that national hunt jockeys had close links with organised crime
Ex-Jockey Club security head Roger Buffham

Among those to blow the lid off the practice was former jockey Dermot Browne.

Browne, currently serving a 10-year ban from the Jockey Club for giving information to a bookmaker and other offences, claimed on the programme:

"I got involved in doping in August 1990. We did about 27 races in the months between August and October."

He stopped when he was arrested later in the year but insisted "that did not stop Brian Wright".

Wright, head of the most successful cocaine smuggling gang ever to target Britain, is said to have helped dope horses and fix races and had a number of jockeys on his pay roll.

Browne continued: "He gave them five grand or something like that.

"He (one jockey) did very well out of it. I'd get phone calls from (him) or other jockeys and I'd say 'Have you spoken to Uncle?' That's what everyone called him (Wright).

"They did big races, as big as the Cheltenham Festival. The bigger the race, the bigger the betting. I actually saw some of them collecting their money."

The extent of race-fixing and links with Wright were backed by Roger Buffham, the former Jockey Club head of security and the whistleblower behind the Panorama programme.

Dermot Browne
Browne said race-fixing was widespread

Buffham told Panorama: "Intelligence and information we had was that national hunt jockeys had close links with organised crime.

"It strikes at the heart of the integrity of horse racing...(that) a jockey can directly affect the outcome of a horse race."

The Jockey Club, however, insisted they were helpless to act against Wright.

Christopher Foster, the executive director, said: "From 1996 to 2002 we were either compromised by serious criminal investigations or could not act because a judge had ordered restrictions on reporting."

Towards the end of the programme he goes further, insisting there had been no foul play.

He added: "We act when there's evidence. I don't recall any situation where evidence was available to us where we did not take action."


No-lose betting claims

The hour-long special's first major allegation centres on Victor Chandler, one of Britain's leading bookmakers.

Buffham suggested that Chandler had, back in the 1990s, opened "free" betting accounts for a number of leading trainers.

He claimed the bookmaker wrote to a number of trainers, offering them accounts up to a certain amount, which would be topped up if they made a loss.

  Panorama's major allegations
Race-fixing and doping by jockeys and criminals
Victor Chandler bookmakers had in the past offered free betting for leading trainers
Jockey Club accused of failing to police the sport
Flat jockeys linked with Hong Kong criminals

Andy Davies, the programme's narrator, said: "If trainers did not bet then bookies knew not to back it. If they did, then they'd go for it."

Trainers Jimmy Fitzgerald and Gay Kelleway were approached in front of the cameras with letters allegedly revealing they had "no lose accounts".

Kelloway simply said, "get your facts right", while Fitzgerald reacted angrily, attempting to tear up the letter.

Fitzgerald later revealed that he had had an account with Victor Chandler but that it was not a "no lose" one.

Buffham's take on Chandler's actions was that it had been "very wrong".

While Chandler refused to comment when approached, Foster added: "It was not an offence under any betting regulation and it was not an offence under the rules of racing.

"We have taken action to now make it difficult. There is no way we would approve of bookmakers paying for privileged information."


The fall-out

Expert reaction

Background

Have your say
Links to more Horse Racing stories are at the foot of the page.


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