The Russian Federal Customs Service mentioned Saturday that its officers had detained an American basketball participant after discovering vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil in her baggage on the Sheremetyevo airport close to Moscow.
The Customs Service mentioned in an announcement that the participant had gained two Olympic gold medals with the United States, but it surely didn’t launch the participant’s title. The Russian information company TASS, citing a regulation enforcement supply, recognized the participant as Brittney Griner, a seven-time W.N.B.A. All-Star heart for the Phoenix Mercury. Griner, 31, gained gold medals with the U.S. girls’s nationwide basketball group in 2021 and 2016.
The Customs Service launched a video of a traveler on the airport who gave the impression to be Griner, carrying a masks and black sweatshirt, going via safety. The video confirmed a person eradicating a bundle from the traveler’s bag.
According to the assertion, a prison case has been opened into the large-scale transportation of medicine, which might carry a sentence of as much as 10 years behind bars in Russia. The basketball participant was taken into custody whereas the investigation was ongoing, the officers mentioned.
In an announcement, the Mercury mentioned: “We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia. We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the W.N.B.A. and N.B.A. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”
The W.N.B.A. mentioned in an announcement that 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 detainment comes amid the escalating battle created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and excessive tensions between Russia and the United States. In latest years, Russia has been detaining and sentencing American residents on what United States officers usually say are trumped-up fees. The arrest of a high-profile American might be seen as Russia’s making an attempt to create leverage for a possible prisoner change with the American authorities or a discount in sanctions associated to the invasion.
Many W.N.B.A. gamers compete in Russia, the place salaries are extra profitable, through the American league’s low season. Griner has performed for the Russian group UMMC Ekaterinburg for a number of years.
Some American gamers started planning to depart Russia following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine, and a W.N.B.A. spokeswoman mentioned on Saturday that each one W.N.B.A. gamers in addition to Griner have been out of Russia and Ukraine.