American basketball star Brittney Griner detained in Russia on drug charges, faces up to 10 years in prison

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WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia and could face up to 10 years in prison after customs officers found “vapes” containing hashish oil in her luggage back in February, reports say. 

The Russian Federal Customs Service released a statement Saturday confirming that an American “two-time Olympic basketball champion” had been taken into custody in February after a narcotics’ dog at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow alerted the athlete’s luggage. 

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The New York Times first reported Griner’s arrest, citing Russian news agency TASS.

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury shoots a free throw against the Las Vegas Aces during Game Five of the 2021 WNBA Semifinals on Oct. 8, 2021, at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. 

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury shoots a free throw against the Las Vegas Aces during Game Five of the 2021 WNBA Semifinals on Oct. 8, 2021, at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. 
(David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

“After scanning the bag, the customs officers noticed vapes,” a translation of the statement read. “The experts found that the cartridges for them contain liquid with hash oil.” 

The agency released a video of the incident that appeared to show Griner going through security. 

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According to the statement, Griner could face anywhere between 5-10 years if found guilty. 

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury celebrates with fans following Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Footprint Center on Oct. 13, 2021, in Phoenix. The Mercury defeated the Sky 91-86 in overtime.  

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury celebrates with fans following Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Footprint Center on Oct. 13, 2021, in Phoenix. The Mercury defeated the Sky 91-86 in overtime.  
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Her agent told ESPN in a statement on Saturday that it was an “ongoing legal matter” and they are in talks with the WNBA and NBA

“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,” the statement read. “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.”

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Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semifinals at Footprint Center on Oct. 6, 2021, in Phoenix. 

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semifinals at Footprint Center on Oct. 6, 2021, in Phoenix. 
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The WNBA also told the outlet that Griner has the league’s “full support” and her safe return is their “top priority.” 

It was not immediately clear if Griner was still in police custody. 

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