WNBA star detained in Russia on drug charges

Griner could face up to 10 years in prison, according to reports.


WNBA all-star player Brittney Griner reportedly has been detained in Russia on drug charges that could land the 31-year old basketball superstar with a 10-year sentence behind bars.

Russian authorities detained the two-time Olympic gold athlete after customs officers discovered hashish oil among other vaping supplies in her luggage as she was going through a security checkpoint at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.

Hashish oil is, also known as hash oil, is the extract from cannabis often used for smoking in vape cartridges and can be consumed in many ways.

Russian authorities reportedly did not release details of Griner's arrest. Initially, TASS, a Russian news outlet, mentioned that officials had arrested an American athlete that had won two gold Olympic medals. They did not mention her name.

The customs service later released a video of a traveler who looked like Griner and depicted security examining a package in one of the traveler's bags. The individual in the footage was later identified as the Phoenix Mercury center.

The New York Times first reported Griner's arrest, connecting the security video from the airport to the basketball payer's identification.

The footage, which dates back to mid-February, indicates that Griner has likely been in Russian custody for close to three weeks.

Representatives from WNBA have stated that they are using the resources available to them to ensure Griner's safe return.

"[Griner] has the W.N.B.A.’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States," the organization said in a statement.

Griner's agent, Lindsey Tagawa Colas, has said that Griner is in contact with her American legal representation as well as her family.

"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 W.N.B.A. and N.B.A.," she 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."

Griner's detention comes as Russian-U.S. relations reach their lowest point in decades. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States has encouraged US citizens to leave the conflict zone, warning that it may not be able to help Americans caught in the conflict. Griner's incarceration adds pressure to the already precariously balanced relations between the two superpowers.


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