BHA Fights Punter Corruption
In an attempt to halt corruption in the Sport of Kings, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is likely to make more frequent use of its power to ban suspect punters from all racecourses within the United Kingdom, while not having to lay formal legal charges against them and become tied up in legal wrangling. This new corruption-fighting strategy was revealed following a weekend of racing during which two individuals deemed to be bringing the sport of horse racing into disrepute were banned from all UK licensed racecourses. In keeping with the BHA rules, this action was taken without pressing formal charges and without any disciplinary hearing being called. The ban includes being forbidden from having contact with jockeys, trainers, stable staff and licensed owners, with all parties being informed of the decision.
In an announcement by Paul Struthers, the Head of Communications for the BHA, he noted that this rule was a fairly recent development, but is anticipated to be used more often into the future as authorities clamp down on individuals who do not respect the ethics and rules of horse racing. No reasons were given for the banning of the two individuals, leaving the racing community speculating as to the manner of their misconduct. Authorities believe that the action will encourage punters to ensure that they understand what falls within the realm of acceptable, and unacceptable, behavior.
Newly appointed Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, Paul Bittar, who takes up office in January 2012, will no doubt monitor the effectiveness of this policy. Bittar is currently Chief Strategy Officer for the racing authority in Victoria, Australia, with a stint as Chief Executive of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing also on his résumé. Chairman of the BHA Paul Roy noted that, following a prolonged and intensive search for the right person to fill the position, 41-year old Paul Bittar was unanimously accepted by the selection team which consisted of Ian Barlow (Chairman of the Racecourse Association); Paul Dixon (Chairman of the horsemen’s Group) and Paul Roy. Certainly Bittar's experience in horse racing management, along with his qualifications as an accountant, will be beneficial to the BHA and the horse racing industry it regulates.