The Portland Thorns have fired head athletic trainer Pierre Soubrier and assistant coach Sophie Clough after results of an independent NWSL investigation proved the two violated league policies.
The published report revealed Soubrier had given a controlled substance to players in violation of league policy, and without a doctor’s prescription.
NWSL’s third-party investigators stated Soubrier "...administered the controlled substance to the players on multiple occasions without a prescription and physician supervision which is a violation of federal and state laws and league policy. Further, Soubrier administered the medication to one of the players without her informed consent.”
Soubrier, who is married to Thorns midfielder Crystal Dunn, was placed on administrative leave in December. League Policy now states that Soubrier can only be eligible for future NWSL jobs only if he receives clearance from the commissioner and “...acknowledges wrongdoing and accepts personal responsibility for his conduct and demonstrates a sincere commitment to correcting his behavior.”
Dr. Breanne Brown also took part in the investigation, after self-reporting to team General Manager Karina LeBlanc that she had supplied Soubrier with the substance. She, reportedly, felt uncomfortable with the decision and told the athletic trainer to attempt to retrieve the medication before it was administered.
The league found that Dr. Brown 'did not violate any federal or state law or league policy', but that the NWSL’s Chief Medical Officer will now hold her to increased oversight for three months, after which the CMO will file an assessment of Dr. Brown’s conduct with the commissioner. The league is also requiring Dr. Brown to review the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics.
In Clough’s case, several concerns were raised surrounding incidents of bullying and inappropriate behavior. It was reported she made a player feel uncomfortable when she kissed her neck during the team’s championship celebration.
The investigation then found the allegations of unwanted physical contact to be true but said the bullying claims were unsubstantiated.
Clough, like Soubrier, will also be eligible to coach in the NWSL again provided she gains clearance from the commissioner, 'demonstrates a clear commitment to correcting behavior and acknowledges wrongdoing and accepts personal responsibility for inappropriate conduct' and completes training on discrimination, harassment, and bullying.
“Portland Thorns FC remain committed to following all NWSL policies,” the Thorns said in a statement provided to The Oregonian.
“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. Upon receiving the NWSL’s final investigative findings, the club terminated the employment of both Soubrier and Clough. The health and safety of the players is our utmost priority.”