By Roz Edward
WNBA star Brittney Griner will continue to be held in a Moscow jail through at least May 19. Griner was imprisoned after having been detained by Russian airport officials who allegedly found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her carry on luggage as she attempted to pass through customs at an airport near Moscow.
Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time Women’s National Basketball Association All-Star with the Phoenix Mercury basketball team, has played for the Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, since 2015 during the WNBA offseason.
The Russian Federal Customs Service did not identify the woman as Griner in a statement quoted in a report from Russia’s Interfax News Agency, which reads: “As a US citizen was passing through the green channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York, a working dog from the Sheremetyevo Customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage.”
“The customs inspection of the hand luggage being carried by the US citizen confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance,” the customs service said in the statement.
USA Basketball, the governing body for the sport in the United States, said in a statement it is “aware of and closely monitoring the legal situation facing Brittney Griner in Russia. 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.”
The WNBA said Griner has its “full support,” adding its main priority is “her swift and safe return to the United States.”
The women’s National Basketball Players Association added it is “aware of the situation in Russia concerning one of our members, Brittney Griner. Our utmost concern is BG’s safety and well-being. On behalf of The 144, we send our love and support. We will continue to closely monitor and look forward to her return to the US.”
Griner was arrested in late February and a criminal case has been opened against her by Russian authorities.