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NWSL investigation leads to 2 Portland Thorns firings, former Spirit head coach ban

Portland Thorns celebrate a goal in 2020. The team announced Tuesday it has fired head athletic trainer Peter Soubrier and assistant coach Sophie Clough after the NWSL substantiated claims made against them. File Photo by Bryan Byerly/ISI Photos
Portland Thorns celebrate a goal in 2020. The team announced Tuesday it has fired head athletic trainer Peter Soubrier and assistant coach Sophie Clough after the NWSL substantiated claims made against them. File Photo by Bryan Byerly/ISI Photos

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A National Women's Soccer League investigation into misconduct has resulted in two members of the Portland Thorns organization being fired and a ban against former Washington Spirit head coach Kris Ward, league officials and teams announced Tuesday.

Portland has fired head athletic trainer Peter Soubrier and assistant coach Sophie Clough after the NWSL substantiated claims made against them, The Oregonian reports.

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Soubrier is accused of giving players medication containing a controlled substance, codeine, without a prescription on more than one occasion. Dr. Breanne Brown, the team's physician, reported an incident in which Soubrier gave the medication to two players during their semifinal win against San Diego in October. One of the players was given the medication without informed consent.

Codeine is a schedule II narcotic.

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Brown also self-reported giving Soubrier a separate medication containing a controlled substance on a different occasion. She was not found to be in violation of any law or league policy but will be placed under increased oversight for three months. At that time, Commissioner Jessica Berman will assess Brown to determine the next plan of action.

"Portland Thorns FC remain committed to following all NWSL policies," the club said in a statement to The Oregonian.

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"The club reported to the league and fully cooperated with the league's investigation into the allegations of misconduct by head athletic trainer Pierre Soubrier and assistant coach Sophie Clough."

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Clough was fired and suspended from the NWSL without pay for the 2023 season for engaging in inappropriate physical contact with a player. The Thorn's front office reported a complaint from a player about an incident that took place in November.

According to the accusation, reported by The Athletic, Clough kissed a player on the neck while the team was celebrating its 2022 NWSL Championship. The player reported feeling "uncomfortable" about the incident.

Clough has been an assistant coach since 2016.

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The league also investigated allegations that Clough engaged in bullying in the workplace but did not substantiate those claims.

Ward, the former coach of Washington's club, was suspended for engaging in "overly aggressive behavior and harassment through negative racial stereotyping towards a player." He is banned from the NWSL and can only be reinstated by the commissioner.

The allegations stem from an incident with an unnamed player during a training session, WTOP News reports. Ward was fired from the Spirit in August.

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