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Women’s soccer trainer fired for giving players painkillers

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NEW YORK — The Portland Thorns have fired their athletic trainer after an outside investigation found he illegally distrubted a controlled substance to players, the National Women’s Soccer League said Tuesday.

The NWSL, beset in recent years by abuse and misconduct allegations, announced that the trainer, Pierre Soubrier, was fired along with Thorns assistant coach Sophie Clough. Soubrier is married to U.S. women’s team defender Crystal Dunn. The league said Clough made unwanted contact with a player.

The league also said abuse allegations against former Washington Spirit coach Kris Ward were substantiated and he is ineligible to work in the NWSL without the commissioner’s approval. An investigation concluded Ward engaged in “negative racial stereotyping toward a player.”

Thorns team physician Dr. Breanne Brown reported in November that Soubrier had given players a medication containing codeine the previous month without a prescription.

Thorns coach Rhian Wilkinson resigned last month after leading the team to the NWSL title and owner Merritt Paulson put up the team for sale. Wilkinson said she was investigated and cleared of wrongdoing by the NWSL and its players’ union after she self-reported that she and a player had developed feelings for one another but had never acted upon them.

An investigation by former Attorney General Sally Q. Yates revealed in October that abuse in the league was systemic, and a report by the league and its union last month found widespread misconduct.

Soubrier, 35, was born in France, played college soccer at Quinnipiac in Connecticut and was hired by the Thorns in 2019. Dunn, a 2019 World Cup champion who has made 128 international appearances, met Soubrier while they both were with Washington. They married in December 2018. Dunn was not cited for misconduct by the NWSL.

When contacted by The Associated Press, Soubrier declined comment at this time on the league’s statement.

He was placed on paid administrative leave Dec. 7, and the investigation determined “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.”

Brown told an investigator she had provided Soubrier in one instance at the trainer’s request access to a controlled substance to give to a player if…

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