By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor
Seven-time WNBA All-Star and former Baylor Bear Brittney Griner is reportedly being detained in Russia after customs officials at Shremetyevo International Airport near Moscow found vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her carry-on luggage last month.
The Russian Federal Customs Service said in a statement that the player had won two Olympic gold medals with the United States and released a video, but didn’t release the player’s name. However, a Russian news agency TASS, citing law enforcement sources, identified the person as Griner on Saturday.
Griner is reportedly being detained on drug trafficking charges, which can carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years in Russia.
“USA Basketball is aware of and closely monitoring the legal situation facing Brittney Griner in Russia,” USA Basketball said via tweet. “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.”
Griner has been playing for the Russian women’s basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason since 2015 due to salaries being more lucrative, similar to many other WNBA players. A WNBA spokeswomen announced on Saturday that all WNBA players besides Griner have left Russia and Ukraine.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” the Phoenix Mercury said in a statement. “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.”
“In recent years, Russia has been detaining and sentencing American officials on what United States officials often say are trumped-up charges,” wrote The New York Times. “The arrest of a high-profile American could be seen as Russia attempting to create leverage for a potential prisoner exchange with the American government.”