WNBA superstar Brittney Griner has been arrested and detained in Russia on drug charges.
According to The New York Times, the Russian Federal Customs Service revealed on Saturday that they arrested the 31-year-old basketball player at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow after officials discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. While the customs agency noted that the person arrested won two Olympic gold medals with the United States, it did not identify the player’s name. However, a Russian news agency later identified the person as Griner. Her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas also did not refute the reports, telling E! News in a statement:
“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. 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.”
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A video shared on the social network Telegram by the Russian Federal Customs Service appears to show Griner going through security and someone later removing a package from her bag. It is unclear when the athlete was arrested, but the customs agency indicated that it happened sometime in February. There’s a strong possibility that she has been detained for several days or longer.
And now, the Russian Federal Customs Service is investigating Griner for drug trafficking, which could mean a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Her team the Phoenix Mercury told E! that they’re “aware of and are closely monitoring the situation” with Griner at this time, adding:
“We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”
USA Basketball also said it’s “aware of and closely monitoring the legal situation facing Brittney Griner in Russia” on Twitter, saying:
“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.”
In addition to playing for the Phoenix Mercury, Griner has played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg for the last seven years during the WNBA’s off-season. Many basketball players compete in foreign leagues in order to supplement their income. According to USA Today, Griner earned over $1 million per season in Russia while she held a base salary of $250,000 last season for Mercury.
Several American players were arranging plans to leave Russia after the start of the invasion with Ukraine. A representative for the WNBA said all of the league’s athletes – besides Griner – had left both countries, The New York Times reported.
This situation comes just after Russia’s horrifying invasion of Ukraine, which has already escalated tensions between the country and the US. Reactions to the situation, Perezcious readers? Let us know in the comments (below)!
[Image via ESPN/YouTube]
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