The Jockey Club has today imposed a 21-day ban on champion flat jockey Kieren Fallon after finding him in breach of Rule 156 (i), “failing to obtain the best possible placing”.

The ban, which will run from 16 March until 18 April means that Fallon will miss the opening of the flat turf season at Doncaster on 25 March.

But the champion jockey faces far more serious allegations this week, as this weekend’s News of the World described “revelations” involving Fallon as “the scandal of the decade”.

Undercover reporters who posed as representatives from a media and marketing group, expressing an interest in investing in racing, approached Fallon via his agent claiming they were hoping to use the jockey as a consultant.

Fallon was allegedly lured into a series of potentially devastating indiscretions, that could, if substantiated, bring to an end a career, which although glittering, has been troubled by the jockey’s “wild side” in the past.

Labelled “Mr Fixit” by the News of the World, Fallon purportedly passed on a number of tips to the reporters. One of these is said to have referred to the controversial maiden race at Lingfield on Tuesday. The jockey allegedly told reporters that although he was on the favourite, Ballinger Ridge, it would be the second favourite, Rye, under Chris Catlin, that would make the running.

On the day Fallon had pulled as much as 10 lengths clear of the rest of the field by the halfway mark in the race and relaxed in the final straight, allowing Rye to catch up and beat him on the line.

There was further controversy when it was revealed that the betting exchange, Betfair, had reported suspicious betting patterns to the Jockey Club before the start of the race.

The Jockey Club explained that its security department will continue to investigate the “unusual” betting patterns but stressed that the imposition of the 21-day suspension on Fallon is wholly without prejudice to further investigations.

John Maxse of the Jockey Club said: “One of the key aims of the investigation is to establish whether there was any correlation between the suspicious betting patterns and Kieren Fallon’s failure to obtain the best possible placing.”

There is an enormous amount of both public and professional support for Fallon throughout the racing world, and many have dismissed recent allegations as “disgraceful”.

Andrew Balding, trainer of Ballinger Ridge, was one of his most outspoken supporters: “There is absolutely no reason why the champion jockey would throw away his career on a low grade race. He misjudged the race, but I cannot believe for one moment that Kieren would be involved in anything sinister.”

The Jockey Club stepped up its investigations following the allegations on Sunday. John Maxse explained: “The News of the World has agreed to provide the Jockey Club with the dossier of its own investigation into Kieren Fallon and, once we have studied it, we will be interviewing the jockey about its contents.”

The allegations cast a shadow over the racing industry only 10 days before the Cheltenham Festival, one of jump racing’s most important meetings.