WNBA Star Brittney Griner Arrested In Russia
By Jason Hall
March 5, 2022
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has been arrested in Russia, the New York Times reports.
The Russian Federal Customs Service said an American basketball player was detained after vape cartridges containing hashish oil were discovered in her luggage at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.
The player was not initially identified beyond being an American who had won two Olympic gold medals.
TASS, a Russian news agency, later identified the player as Griner, 31, who won gold with Team U.S.A. in 2016 and 2021, citing a law enforcement source, the New York Times reports.
The Russian Federal Customs Service released a video showing a traveler who appeared to be Griner wearing a mask and black sweatshirt while walking through security before another person is shown removing a package from the traveler's luggage.
The department confirmed that a criminal case into the large-scale transportation of drugs has been opened in relation to the incident, which could carry a sentence of up to 10 years of jail time in Russia for the basketball player, who remains in custody amid the ongoing investigation.
Griner's agent, WNBA spokespeople and the Mercury didn't immediately respond to the New York Times' request for comment on Saturday (March 5).
The former Baylor University standout was selected by the Mercury at No. 1 overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft and is one of the league's top stars, leading the franchise to a WNBA championship.
Griner is a seven-time WNBA All-Star, two-time scoring champion, eight-time blocks leader and two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award winner, among numerous other accolades.
The Houston native plays overseas for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia during the WNBA offseason.
The arrest comes amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine following President Vladimir Putin's announcement that his country planned to conduct military operations in the neighboring country on February 24.