Jockey Club clears Fallon

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Kieren Fallon, the former champion Flat jockey, will not face disrepute charges relating to race-fixing allegations made against him in a Sunday newspaper, the Jockey Club said on Tuesday. The Irishman and fellow jockey John Egan had been facing a disciplinary inquiry into whether they had brought racing into disrepute through their dealings with undercover reporters, which appeared in the News of the World in March.

The newspaper reported that Fallon had told reporters posing as Middle Eastern gamblers that a horse he was riding at Lingfield in March would lose. Fallon had looked a clear winner aboard Ballinger Ridge but was caught on the line having appeared to ease up. He was banned for 21 days by the Jockey Club for that incident. Fallon has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The Jockey Club said: "After reviewing the dossier initially handed over by the News of the World, it was considered that there was evidence to warrant holding an inquiry which would seek to establish whether or not Kieren Fallon and John Egan, through their dealings with the reporters, were culpable for the ensuing negative coverage racing received.

"Since that decision was taken, however, additional material from the News of the World has been received. After examining the material in total and having taken advice from our legal team, we no longer consider that there is sufficient evidence to merit a disciplinary hearing."

Fallon is among 25 people arrested during the past three months by police investigating alleged race-fixing. All have been bailed until April.

Fallon's solicitor Christopher Stewart-Moore said: "I've spoken to Kieren and he told me he's glad to have been cleared of all of the News Of The World allegations by the Jockey Club, which have been proved to have been completely unfounded, and he looks forward to the results of the police inquiry."

* Portsmouth's goalscoring hero Lomana LuaLua claimed the post-Harry Redknapp era was well under way after his team snatched a 1-1 Premiership draw at Liverpool on Tuesday night. Steven Gerrard blasted home a free-kick midway through the second half but LuaLua knocked in a close- range header in injury-time after goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek had fumbled a cross. The draw made it four matches without defeat for Pompey, and Redknapp's "defection" to arch-rivals Southampton appeared to be long-forgotten.

* The final matches in the Uefa Cup's group stage will be played on Wednesday and Thursday, with British clubs largely in enviable positions. Middlesbrough play Partizan Belgrade on Wednesday night at the Riverside Stadium having qualified for the last-32 knockout stage, as have north-east neighbours Newcastle, who play host to Sporting Lisbon on Thursday. Rangers, however, need a point from their game in Glasgow on Wednesday against French club Auxerre to ensure qualification, and Hearts must defeat Ferencvaros of Hungary at home on Thursday to have any chance of pipping Basle to the third qualification place in Group A.

The draws for both the Uefa Cup and the Champions League knockout stages will be held on Friday in Nyon, Switzerland.

* Rod Kafer became the second Zurich Premiership coach to lose his job in less than a month when he left Saracens on Tuesday by mutual consent, writes Huw Richards. But like England with Andy Robinson, the Watford club had an obvious internal successor, and Steve Diamond, Kafer's assistant, was immediately promoted. While Kafer's move sparked speculation he would be a candidate to lead the new franchise created last Friday in Perth, Western Australia, for the Super 12 tournament's expansion in 2006, his departure reflects Sarries' continuing under-achievement. After winning their season-opening match against Wasps, they are eighth out of 12 in the Premiership.

Regarded in Australia as a potential national coach, Kafer, 33, has disappointed in British rugby. As backs coach at Leicester he was unable to spark the life compatriot Pat Howard is now inducing in the Tigers' attacking play, while Sarries have struggled throughout the season and a half since Kafer succeeded the miscast Wayne Shelford, the former New Zealand international.

Diamond's promotion, following Budge Pountney's temporary succession to South African Alan Solomons at Northampton, restores a British majority among Premiership head coaches. Diamond is a former assistant coach at Sale who is being groomed for an international future after success with England shadow squads in the Churchill Cup tournaments held during the past two summers in Canada.

Meanwhile, Bath's injury woes increased as centre Spencer Davey was ruled out for the rest of the season with a ruptured knee ligament. The England Under-21 international was injured during last weekend's Heineken Cup 47-7 victory over Benetton Treviso, when Bath were deprived of the services of 13 players through injury.

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