Women’s soccer coach fired for giving painkillers to players

NEW YORK — The Portland Spikes have fired their athletic coach after a third-party investigation found he illegally distributed a controlled substance to players, the National Women’s Football League said Tuesday.

The NWSL, surrounded in recent years by allegations of abuse and misconduct, announced that coach Pierre Subrier has been fired along with Thorns assistant coach Sophie Clough. Soubrier is married to US women’s national team defender Crystal Dunn. The league stated that Clough made unsolicited contact with the player.

The league also said that allegations of abuse against former Washington Spirit coach Chris Ward were substantiated and he was not eligible to work in the NWSL without the commissioner’s approval. The investigation concluded that Ward was involved in “negative racial stereotyping of the player”.

Thorns team doctor Dr. Brynn Browne revealed in November that Soubrier had given players drugs containing codeine in the previous month without a prescription.

Thorns coach Ryan Wilkinson resigned last month. after leading the team to the NWSL title and owner Merritt Paulson put the team up for sale. Wilkinson said she was investigated and cleared of wrongdoing by the NWSL and her players’ union after she herself revealed that she and the player developed feelings for each other but never acted on them.

An investigation by former Attorney General Sally K. Yates was published in October. that league abuse was systemic, and report of the league and its union for the last month discovered massive violations.

Born in France, Saubrier, 35, played college football with the Quinnipiac in Connecticut and was hired by the Thorns in 2019. Dunn, the 2019 world champion with 128 caps, met Saubrier when they were both at Washington. They got married in December 2018. The NWSL did not hold Dunn liable for misconduct.

When contacted by the Associated Press, Soubrier declined to comment on the league’s statement.

He was placed on paid administrative leave on December 7, and the investigation found that “Subrier was found to have repeatedly administered a controlled substance to players without a prescription and medical supervision, in violation of federal and state laws and league policy.” In addition, Soubrier administered the drug to one of the players without her informed consent.”

Brown told the investigator that in one case, at the request of a coach, she gave Subria access to a controlled substance to give a player if needed. Brown then became uncomfortable and took the substance.

Subrier was suspended by the league without pay until the end of the 2023 season, and the NWSL said it would report him to the Oregon Athletic Coaches Council and Board of Certification. The league stated that Saubrier was fired by the team and he will be eligible for a future job in the NWSL in accordance with the decisions and requirements of the state of Oregon, and also “he admits wrongdoing and takes personal responsibility for his behavior and demonstrates a sincere desire to correct his behavior” .

The league said Brown would be subject to increased oversight by the NWSL chief medical officer and report to him for three months and then be evaluated.

US Football Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone took the matter to press secretary Neil Buet, who said the organization declined to comment.

The league said the Thorns reported in November that Clough “made a player uncomfortable by kissing her on the neck at the team’s championship celebration.” The NWSL stated that the unwanted contact in violation of league policy was confirmed, but claims of intimidation were not substantiated and “Clough did not go beyond proper training.”

Clough, 34, has been an assistant coach for the Thorns since 2016. She was also suspended without pay by the league for the 2023 season and was fired by the team.

Clough will be eligible for another job in the league if she “takes part in education related to discrimination, harassment and bullying, demonstrates a clear commitment to correcting behavior and acknowledges wrongdoing and accepts personal responsibility for inappropriate behavior.”

Ward, 43, coached Washington to the 2020 NWSL title before being fired last August during a 15-game losing streak. The league said that Spirit reported that same month that players had “expressed concerns about verbal abuse and emotional misconduct” from Ward during practice. The league said the investigation found that Ward “engaged in excessive harassment and harassment due to negative racial stereotyping of the player.”

The NSWL said that Ward needs the approval of a league commissioner to be eligible for a future job and “must complete mandatory training related to discrimination, harassment, bullying and racial bias” and must also “admit wrongdoing and take personal responsibility.” responsible for misbehavior.”

The AP was unable to contact Clough and Ward.


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