brittney griner controversy

Brittney Griner, a WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, was reportedly detained earlier this year at a Moscow airport. Months later, concerns remain about the widely denounced incident.

The 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury player was initially detained back in February, but is still being held in Russia, which the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs has ruled is subject to a Level 4 travel alert because of its invasion of Ukraine.

We examine Griner’s detention in greater detail below, along with potential outcomes.

What happened?

According to an Associated Press article, Brittney Griner was detained at a Moscow airport in February after “vape cartridges” were allegedly found during a baggage search, according to Russian authorities.

Later, the Russian Federal Customs Service asserted that the cartridges in question contained hash oil, which might result in a fine and up to ten years in prison.

Before the heavily condemned detention, which is still going on as of this writing, Griner had previously played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg before the league announced a temporary suspension earlier that same month.

brittney griner controversy

As for the reason Griner was there, it’s not uncommon for people to leave the country during the offseason to play in other leagues. Notably, athletes typically earn a lot more money during these visits than they do with their individual wages earned in the United States. There are further advantages.

In 2016, Griner reportedly told ESPN, “I don’t have to talk to anyone over here.” I’m not required to see anyone. I’m not required to pick up the phone. Additionally, when I am up, most others are asleep. When I’m over here, I can lose connection.

Except for Griner, all WNBA players were confirmed to have left Russia and Ukraine in a New York Times piece dated March.

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How Has the WNBA Responded?

The WNBA stated that Griner has the league’s “full support” as the matter develops in its initial statement. A “swift and safe return to the United States” was the top concern, according to the WNBA statement.

The WNBA said in May that it would memorialize Griner by displaying his initials and jersey number (42) on the sidelines of each of the 12 league courts during the 2022 season.

brittney griner controversy

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated in announcing the plans, “As we start the 2022 season, we are keeping Brittney at the forefront of what we do through the game of basketball and in the community.

We are grateful for the community’s support of BG and her family through this exceptionally trying time and will keep working to bring Brittney home.

The WNBA has also granted the Phoenix Mercury roster and pay cap relief, enabling the hiring of a stand-in player until Griner’s return. Meanwhile, Griner will continue to get her full pay.

Who Else Has Spoken Out?

Cherelle, Brittney Griner’s wife, thanked the public for their support in a post that she published on Instagram in March.

As you can see below, Cherelle remarked, “I love my wife with all of my heart, thus this message comes during one of the lowest moments of my life.

I realize that a lot of you have come to adore BG through the years and are worried and want to know more. Please respect our privacy while we seek to bring my wife home safely.

There is “no work in this world that could keep any of us from thinking about [Brittney],” Cherelle wrote in response to the frequently offered advice to remain busy when grieving.

Politicians have also gotten involved in the requests for Griner’s release, including Colin Allred of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and John Garamendi of California, who told CNN in March that the detention was “extraordinary and exceedingly troubling.”

Two of Griner’s USA Basketball colleagues, Angel McCoughtry and Breanna Stewart, have also spoken out about the detention. According to a story from the Associated Press, Stewart is joining Griner’s Phoenix Rescue Mission charity initiative.

The fact that we must get there is the major issue. Although it was BG, Stewart noted that it could have been anyone.

What’s Next?

According to an NPR story, state-owned media in Russia reported in March that Griner’s arrest will be prolonged until May 19. The Biden administration declared that Griner had been “wrongfully held” in Russia by early May.

According to the Department of State, American citizen Brittney Griner was illegally held by the Russian Federation, a department representative informed the Washington Post. “The United States government will continue to make attempts to give Ms. Griner the proper support,”

brittney griner controversy

This essentially suggests that the U.S. government will now exert more pressure to secure Griner’s release as a result of pressure from numerous voices.

According to CBS News, the unjust detainment distinction also implies that Griner’s case is now under the control of the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department.

The envoy’s role is to coordinate American government “diplomatic engagements” in this area and to respond to hostage-related issues.

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How Has Griner Pleaded?

On June 27, Griner was given the go-ahead to go to trial for possession.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Griner has been ordered to stand trial and could receive a 10-year prison sentence if found guilty. Griner was also given the go-ahead to stay behind bars, and her incarceration has now officially been prolonged for an extra six months.

On July 7, per Reuters, Griner pleaded guilty.

“Your honor, I’d like to enter a guilty plea. But there was no intention,” Griner claimed in a Russian court on Thursday. His next hearing is scheduled for July 14. I wished to not violate the law.

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