BHA Suspends Integrity Manager11th December 2009 10:45 am GMT
The Integrity of the British Horseracing Authority's Integrity Unit has taken a hammering in the British press in recent days following the suspension of its security operations manager.
Yogita Popat, a former Hartfordshire Police intelligence manager, heads a 35 strong team at the BHA which works with jockeys and trainers to combat race-fixing and corrupt betting.
The UK's Daily Express newspaper earlier quoted a senior BHA spokesman as "categorically denying" that the suspension of Popat had anything to do with betting or relationships with jockeys, beyond which the BHA has stayed silent on the matter.
It now appears that Ms. Popat, whose integrity united is funded through the horserace betting levy, was suspended after it was discovered that she may have been privately providing consultancy services through a company called Integrity in Sport.
Ms. Popat's name and mobile telephone number appear on the website of Integrity in Sport, which has now been taken down but is still visible through Google's cache.
Despite the importance of Popat's role and the media interest in the reason behind her suspension, the BHA has refused to comment, focusing instead on PR relating to its 2010 budget in which it calls for government action on funding, warning that reduced funding risks the integrity of the sport.
"In France, 8% of betting turnover is returned to racing, which in 2008 equated to over €700 million returned back into the sport from their PMU. In Britain, the model is very different, but from an estimated £12billion turnover the equivalent of just 1% was returned through the Levy, with the other significant contributor to Racing that Government set up - the Tote - delivering roughly £20 million back," said BHA Chairman Paul Roy in a statement released yesterday.
"In particular, urgent action is essential to address the most recent blow to Racing's finances, moves offshore of some of the major operators' online businesses joining the large number who have already gone, and who pay no Levy into the sport as the law stands now.
"The threat of all remote businesses moving offshore is ever-present, taking more business out of the Levy net, with a catastrophic effect on the sport's funding. We also need to see that no one can be in business acting as a bookmaker on betting exchanges without paying full levy," he said.