American WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained in February on drug charges at an airport near Moscow, according to a report from The New York Times. Griner was detained after Russian Federal Customs Service officials searched her luggage, saying they found vape cartridges containing hashish oil.
Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, also plays for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason. Many players in the women’s league play in Russia in order to earn extra income.
Per the NYT, the search of Griner’s luggage occurred in February, meaning there’s a chance she has been in Russian custody for a few days. Griner could face up to ten years in prison for the crime.
“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA,” Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas said. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.”
According to the NYT, the WNBA has said that all other players competing in Russia are now out of the country, with the exception of Griner.
“We are aware of the situation in Russia concerning one of our members, Brittney Griner,” the WNBA players’ union said in a statement on Saturday. “Our utmost concern is BG’s safety and well-being. On behalf of The 144, we send our love and support. We will continue to closely monitor and look forward to her return to the U.S.”
Griner won the 2014 WNBA championship with Phoenix, and won two gold medals as a member of the 2016 and 2021 USA Olympics women’s basketball teams.
“USA Basketball is aware of and closely monitoring the legal situation facing Brittney Griner in Russia,” USA basketball said in a statement. “Brittney has always handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball and her safety and wellbeing are our primary concerns.”
The timing of the arrest could not be worse for Griner, as the U.S. and many Western countries have levied heavy sanctions against Russia following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last week, President Joe Biden announced sanctions against Russia that will target “Russian elites, banks, and technology exports which he claimed will cripple Russia’s ability to modernize its military and will damage the Russian economy,” according to The Daily Wire. On Saturday, Putin said the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia were “akin to an act of war.”
Griner was drafted by the Mercury as top pick in the 2013 draft, and has averaged 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game in her nine WNBA seasons.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]