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The Athletic: Timbers did not notify the league office of initial Polo domestic violence allegations

A report in The Athletic claims that Portland first notified the league of allegations against Polo last week once the news became public.

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Los Angeles Galaxy v Portland Timbers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

According to a report published by Sam Stejskal and Pablo Maurer in The Athletic today, the Portland Timbers did not notify the MLS league office of the May 2021 allegations of domestic violence against Andy Polo until after the accusations became public last week. In addition, the story reports that MLS has now engaged with an outside law firm to review how the Timbers organization handled the allegations from last year.

Last week, allegations of domestic violence against Polo from his ex-partner Genesis Alarcon became public, after Alarcon’s interview with a television program aired. Polo was subsequently suspended and a league-led investigation into the allegations was launched. Polo had his contract terminated the next day.

In the statement the Timbers released announcing Polo’s contract termination, they revealed that they were aware of an incident on May 23, 2021, between Polo and Alarcon, in which Polo was cited for harassment. A full police report obtained by The Oregonian outlines the details and outcome of that incident, and how club manager of player affairs Gabriel Jaimes and club head of security Jim McCausland both arrived at the scene after the police.

According to the report from The Athletic, the Timbers did not make the league aware of that May incident until after the allegations surfaced publicly last week.

The league provided The Athletic with the following statement:

“Following the allegations made last week against Andy Polo, Major League Soccer promptly launched a review into the decisions that the Portland Timbers made in response to the charges brought against the player last May. The Timbers are committed to this review and have pledged their full cooperation.”

The league did not specifically confirm to The Athletic whether the Timbers did or did not notify around the May incident, stating “that question is a subject of the review and it would be premature to discuss at this time.”

It is unclear, according to the story, if the most recent publicly available versions of the league’s constitution or collective bargaining agreement explicitly required the Timbers to inform the league of the specific violation. However, one of the behaviors outlined by the league that violates its Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health policy is “domestic violence”.

When reached for comment on the ongoing investigation, the Timbers provided The Athletic with the following statement:

“The Portland Timbers welcome Major League Soccer’s review into the handling of the May 2021 Andy Polo complaint and will cooperate fully.”

The report from The Athletic also suggests that there could be legal ramifications for the Timbers if Polo’s contract was terminated before the initial investigation into the allegations was closed. If it has been closed, the findings of that investigation have not yet been made public.

Now, we are aware of an additional inquiry the league has launched. The investigation into the Timbers’ handling of the May 23, 2021 incident and its aftermath is ongoing. It is expected that the findings and recommendations that result from the investigation will be made public once completed.

You can read the full story in The Athletic (subscription or free trial required) here.