WNBA star, US gold medalist Brittney Griner arrested in Russia on drug charges, reports

Griner was reportedly arrested last month over vape cartridges with hash oil, maximum penalty is 10 years in prison
WNBA players (l to r) Brittany Griner, Azurá Stevens, Wintrust Arena. Chicago, Ill. oct. 17, 2021.
(Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Authorities said Saturday that WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was arrested last month in Moscow on drug-related charges and remains detained in Russia, amid its invasion of Ukraine, which is strongly being condemned by the U.S. and Western allies.

Griner, who plays in the off-season in Russia, was reportedly arrested at Moscow airport after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges.

The Russian Customs Service said Saturday that the cartridges were identified as containing oil derived from cannabis, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. 

The customs service identified the person arrested as a player for the U.S. women’s team and did not specify the date of her arrest. Russian media reported the player was 31-year-old Griner, and her agent did not dispute those reports, according to the Associated Press

The agent also told the wire service that she couldn’t discuss more details about the incident because it was an ongoing legal matter but acknowledged efforts to get the two-time Olympic gold winner back to the United States. 

Also on Saturday, the State Department issued a "do not travel" advisory for Russia because and urged all U.S. citizens to depart immediately, citing such factors as "the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials."

More than a dozen WNBA players were playing in Russia and Ukraine this winter, the Associated Press also reports