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Portland Thorns fire 2 more staff following misconduct report

FILE - Portland Thorns fans hold signs during the first half of the team's National Women's Soccer League soccer match against the Houston Dash in Portland, Ore., Oct. 6, 2021.
Steve Dipaola
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FILE - Portland Thorns fans hold signs during the first half of the team's National Women's Soccer League soccer match against the Houston Dash in Portland, Ore., Oct. 6, 2021.

The Portland Thorns have fired assistant coach Sophie Clough and athletic trainer Pierre Soubrier following an investigation into misconduct from the two staff members. Both are additionally suspended from the National Women’s Soccer League for the rest of the season, according to a team announcement Tuesday.

The firings are the latest in a list of staff and administrators who either were terminated or resigned following a massive misconduct investigation by the National Women’s Soccer League.

In early November, Portland Thorns leadership reported player concerns about an incident in which Clough made a player feel uncomfortable by kissing her neck at the team’s championship celebration in Washington, D.C. A third-party investigator found that the claims of unwanted contact were substantiated and violated league policy. Additional claims of bullying were found to be unsubstantiated.

Also in November, Thorns physician Dr. Breanne Brown reported that players had been given a prescription drug by one of the athletic trainers. Brown told the team’s general manager that Soubrier had given two players codeine at the Thorns’ Oct. 22 semifinal match. Codeine is a controlled substance and can only be prescribed by a physician. The league placed Soubrier on paid administrative leave in early December.

The investigator found that the concerns about Soubrier were substantiated. Soubrier was found to have given the drug to the players on multiple occasions without a prescription and physician supervision. Further, Soubrier administered the medication to one of the players without her informed consent.

Brown also self-reported her own conduct. The investigator confirmed that on one occasion, Brown provided Soubrier with access to a controlled substance to give to a Thorns’ player if needed. However, Brown promptly communicated to Soubrier that it should not be administered and retrieved it. The investigator found that Brown’s actions did not violate any federal or state law, or league policy.

After their suspension is over, Clough and Soubrier will be eligible for future employment in the league at the NWSL commissioner’s discretion. Soubrier was also reported to Oregon Board of Athletic Trainers and the board of certification. He must get their approval to practice again. According to the team, Brown will be subject to increased oversight by and regular reporting to the NWSL chief medical officer for three months.

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