Skip to main content

WNBA, Team USA, Phoenix Mercury All Issue Statements After Brittney Griner’s Reported Arrest in Russia

The WNBA, Team USA and the Phoenix Mercury have all released statements on Saturday amid reports that American basketball star Brittney Griner has been arrested in Russia. 

Griner is reportedly being detained in Russia after the Russian Federal Customs Service found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow, according to The New York Times. Although the Customs Service did not originally reveal the detainee’s identity, Russian news agency TASS, citing a law enforcement source, later identified the individual as Griner.

According to the Customs Service statement, a criminal case involving the American basketball player “has been opened into the large-scale transportation of drugs,” which can carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years in Russia. The basketball player was allegedly taken into custody in February and the investigation is still ongoing, officials told the NYT.

The Mercury released a statement Saturday regarding the situation reportedly involving Griner.

“We are aware and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” the statement said. “We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Britney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”

USA Basketball echoed a similar sentiment in a statement, saying “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 added that Griner “has the WNBA’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States.” The players’ association released a separate statement on the situation.

Griner, 31, is a seven-time WNBA All-Star for the Phoenix Mercury and won gold medals with the U.S. national team in 2016 and 2021. She has also played in the Russian Premier League for UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014.

More Sports Illustrated Coverage: