According to Russian news agency TASS, Brittney Griner is being detained on drug charges. The Russian Federal Customs Service announced on Saturday that an unnamed basketball player was arrested at an airport near Moscow after hashish oil was allegedly found in her belongings. ESPN noted that the maximum penalty for this in Russia is 10 years in prison.
A video was released by Russian Customs of the incident, and while it did not specifically identify Griner, it does appear to be the Phoenix Mercury center who has spent her WNBA offseason playing for Russian side UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014. She is, however, identified as a two-time Olympic basketball champion with the United States — Griner has won Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2020.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” the Mercury said in a statement, per the New York Times. “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.”
“We are aware of the situation in Russia concerning one of our members, Brittney Griner. Our utmost concern is BG’s safety and well-being,” the WNBA players’ union told ESPN. “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 U.S.”
The WNBA additionally released a statement offering support for Griner, while also noting that all other players who were in Russia have since left the country. Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas of Wasserman, told ESPN that the agency is “in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA.”
In the caption, it is alleged that the incident occurred in February of this year, and while it is unclear exactly how long Griner has been detained, Angel McCoughtry wrote in an Instagram caption that this situation has been ongoing for three weeks.