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The New York Times Reports That Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist and WNBA Player Brittney Griner was Arrested in Russia on Drug Charges

Brittney Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) All-Star with the Phoenix Mercury basketball team, has been arrested in Russia after Customs officials detected cannabis oil in his luggage at an airport near Moscow, The New York Times reported. The Russian news agency TASS cited a police source who identified the American woman who was arrested on drug charges as Griner, 31, upon arriving from New York, the report.

Russia’s Federal Customs Service did not identify the woman as Griner in a statement quoted in a report by Russia’s Interfax News Agency, which says: “‘As a US citizen passed through the green channel at Sheremetyevo airport at Arriving from New York, a working dog from the Sheremetyevo Customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic drugs in the accompanying baggage.

“‘Customs inspection of the carry-on luggage carried by the US citizen confirmed the presence of vaporizers with liquid with a specific odor, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance,'” the customs service said in the statement. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its second week, President Vladimir Putin on Saturday issued a series of threats against Ukraine and Western powers, saying the sanctions imposed on his country are “equivalent to a declaration of war.”

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury during a game against the Chicago Sky on October 10, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. Interfax, citing the customs service, said the US citizen was detained and arrested and noted that a criminal case had been opened against her. A State Department spokesperson told CNN on Saturday: “We are aware of reports of a US citizen arrested in Moscow. Whenever an American citizen is arrested abroad, we stand ready to provide all appropriate consular services.” Griner currently plays for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg. Griner has played with the team since 2015 during the WNBA offseason. In her five games this season she is averaging 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

The player, who won the WNBA championship with the Mercury in 2014, averaged 20.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season with Phoenix. Griner is also a two-time FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Championship medalist with Team USA. USA Basketball, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the Mercury and the WNBA Players’ Union publicly shared their concerns about Griner.

USA Basketball, the sport’s governing body in the United States, said in a statement that it is “aware of and closely monitoring the legal situation facing Brittney Griner in Russia. Brittney has always conducted herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball.” and their safety and well-being are our primary concerns.”

The WNBA said Griner has its “full support,” adding that its top priority is “his quick and safe return to the United States.” The Phoenix Mercury said they are “closely following the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia” as they remain in “constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and the NBA. We love and support Brittney and right now our main concern is their safety, their physical and mental health, and their safe return home.”

The National Women’s Basketball Players Association said in a statement that it is “aware of the situation in Russia regarding one of our members, Brittney Griner. Our greatest concern is the safety and well-being of BG. On behalf of The 144, We send our love and support. We will continue to closely monitor and look forward to his return to the United States.”

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