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Portland Thorns

NWSL investigation finds Thorns players received codeine without prescription & assistant gave unwanted neck kiss

23:12 EAT 24/01/2023
Portland Thorns 2022
The Portland Thorns fired two members of staff on Tuesday after an NWSL investigation found violations from the 2022 season.

Head athletic trainer Pierre Soubrier distributed the controlled substance codeine to players without a prescription during last year's playoffs, including to one who wasn't properly informed of what she had been given, according to the NWSL.

Meanwhile, assistant coach Sophie Clough allegedly gave an unwanted neck kiss to a player during championship celebrations.

The NWSL recommended one year of unpaid leave for Soubrier and Clough, but the Thorns fired them at the conclusion of the investigation.

“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 has terminated the employment of both Soubrier and Clough. The health and safety of the players is our utmost priority.”

Portland has repeatedly run afoul of NWSL rules in recent years, and earlier this month, the club was fined $1 million for its handling of misconduct allegations regarding ex-coach Paul Riley, who has been banned from the league for life.

The most recent findings came after the Thorns self-reported the incidents involving Soubrier and Clough.

On the Soubrier matter, the NWSL wrote: “Soubrier was found to have 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 is the husband of USWNT and Thorns player Crystal Dunn.

Clough had been an assistant with the Thorns since 2016.

Portland owner Merritt Paulson, who also heads MLS' Timbers, has said he will sell the Thorns after the series of scandals led fans to demand his exit.