WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was arrested recently at a Moscow airport. Per the Associated Press, Russian authorities discovered vape cartridges in her luggage. The Russian Customs Service said in a statement Saturday, Mar. 5 that the cartridges were identified as containing oil derived from cannabis. Such can carry a prison sentence of 10 years in prison. The customs service identified Griner as the person responsible. Her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas did not dispute those reports.
"We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA," Kagawa Colas said Saturday. "As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern."
Due to the issues between Ukraine and Russia, a "do not travel" advisory for Russia recently urged all U.S. citizens to depart immediately. They cited several factors including "the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens by Russian government security officials" and "the Embassy's limited ability to assist" Americans in Russia.
Griner is a team member on the Phoenix Mercury. She has played in Russia for the last seven years in the off season during the winter, earning over $1 million per season. She's won Olympic gold medals with the U.S., a WNBA championship with the Mercury and a national championship at Baylor. Griner is also a seven-time All-Star.
"Brittney Griner has the WNBA's full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States," the league said in a statement. She has yet to speak on the ordeal. Several celebrities have shared their support of Griner on social media.
Brittney Griner has been detained for 3 weeks and we’re just hearing about it?— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) March 5, 2022
Her arrest has also reignited discussions on the imbalance of salary between men and women in professional basketball.
Brittney Griner is among the biggest names in women’s sports and she still has to compete in China and Russia in the off-season because the WNBA pays her just $227k annually, around the league max. She makes many times her WNBA salary playing overseas.— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️⚧️🇺🇦 (@cmclymer) March 5, 2022
Min. NBA salary is $925k.