The Russian Federal Customs Service has detained seven-time WNBA All-Star center Brittney Griner, 31, after claiming to have found hashish oil in her suitcase, according to the New York Times and Russian news agency TASS.
At now, she plays for the Russian Premier League women’s basketball team, UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Vape cartridges purportedly containing hashish oil were discovered by customs when Griner’s luggage was inspected at a security checkpoint at Sheremetyevo International Airport.RELATED
If Griner is accused and convicted of a felony, she may face up to ten years in prison.
At this moment, it is unclear if she is leaving the nation.
A handful of American basketball players have already returned to the United States from Russia and Ukraine, which is currently embroiled in war.
“large-scale transportation of drugs, a felony that can carry a penalty of up to ten years behind bars in Russia,” according to the Times, has been charged against Griner, who is presently in detention.
The investigation is still underway.
However, while the customs office did not identify Griner by name, it did release a video of the incident, and an unnamed law enforcement source confirmed Griner’s detention, according to Russian news agency TASS.
A statement from Phoenix Mercury, the team that picked Griner with the No. 1 choice in the 2013 WNBA Draft, was released Saturday.
“Brittney Griner’s position in Russia is being continuously monitored by us. The WNBA and NBA, as well as her family and agent, are all sources of frequent communication for us. Brittney’s safety, health, and return home are our primary concerns at this time. We love and support her.”
Griner led the Mercury to the 2014 WNBA championship as well as being an All-Star.
On the court, she has won two Olympic gold medals and two World Cups with Team USA, as well as a WNBA Defensive Player of the Year award and three Russian National League championships.
Amidst rising tensions between the United States and Russia, there is a concern that Griner’s detention could be used as a political instrument to gain leverage because of her prominent reputation as an athlete and celebrity.