A member of the WNBA currently held in Russia for allegedly traveling with illegal drugs at an airport near Moscow is now known to be future Hall of Famer Brittney Griner.
“The detainee is a professional basketball player, a member of the U.S. National Basketball Association, a two-time Olympic basketball champion in the U.S. team,” the Russian Federal Customs Service reported.
The two-time WNBA champion was identified by Russian media outlets. What is unknown currently is when in February Griner was detained. Speculation on social media says she played her last game for her team on Jan.29 and did not appear in the lineup since.
According to a Russian Federal Customs Service report, back in February, a U.S. citizen was detained at the Sheremetyevo airport with a “consignment of drugs.”
When the Russian government initiated a criminal case, reportedly, an American was arrested.
“In February 2022, when a U.S. citizen, who arrived on a flight from New York, was passing through the ‘green’ corridor at Sheremetyevo Airport, a service dog from the canine department of Sheremetyevo Customs indicated the possible presence of narcotic drugs in the escorted luggage,” according to the FCS report.
Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner arrested in Russia with vape cartridges, multiple reports say😳 pic.twitter.com/FljqOXUqF1
— Get Noticed🙏🏾👀 (@Bee4theclout) March 5, 2022
Caught In The Airport
During a search of her luggage by the Sheremetyevo Customs department, which according to reports, fluoroscopic equipment was used, a drug-smuggling inspector found “vapes” in the bags. The electronic heating system cartridges were discovered to contain cannabis liquid.
“The customs inspection of hand luggage carried by a U.S. citizen confirmed the presence of “vapes” with a liquid with a specific smell, and an expert found that the liquid is a narcotic cannabis oil (hash oil),” the Federal Customs Service said.
Vaping equipment with cannabis oil cartridges is illegal in Russia. Now Griner faces a criminal case.
“A measure of restraint in the form of detention has been chosen against the American woman,” the FCS report continued.
The Phoenix Mercury, Brittney Griner's WNBA team, just released this statement to 6 News.
— Matt Lively (@mattblively) March 5, 2022
She has been charged as a U.S. citizen under “paragraph “c” of Part 2 of Art. 229.1 of the Criminal Code” of the Russian Federation. According to reports, the charge, smuggling of narcotic drugs in a significant amount, has a punishment term of 5 to 10 years.
According to reports, last month, the WNBA and the players association warned its players about traveling to countries like Russia, Ukraine, and other European nations potentially warring during the offseason.
Statement from the WNBPA regarding Brittney Griner. pic.twitter.com/Bw9sVCJAlX
— WNBPA (@TheWNBPA) March 5, 2022
“We have been in constant communication with our members and their representatives for several weeks, and we’ll continue to stay abreast of current events,” according to a WNBA statement.
“The league has also been in contact with WNBA players who are in Russia, either directly or through their agents. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
What A Time To Be In Russia
The 31-year-old is a 6-foot-8 center and three-time All-American at Baylor University. Griner is also a Phoenix Mercury franchise star alongside Diana Taurasi.
Griner was a member of the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team. The team won gold medals at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
— Mara McEwin (@maramcewin) March 5, 2022
Since 2015, Griner has played for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a women’s basketball team in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in the WNBA offseason. The team competes in the Russian Premier League and FIBA Europe’s EuroLeague.
Griner’s criminal case comes when many American athletes have fled Ukraine amid the attack by Russia. To say this bad timing is an understatement.
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