In late February 2022, WNBA champion and two-time Olympic Gold medalist, Brittney Griner was detained in Russia after customs officials in Moscow found cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage.
Earlier today, Russian courts found Griner guilty of drug possession and smuggling, unjustly handing out a nine-year prison sentence. Leaving the courtroom Brittney was seen turning to reporters and saying “I love my family”.
Brittney admitted to having the vape cartridges in her luggage as an honest mistake while packing.
“I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling, that it doesn’t end my life here. My parents taught me two important things: one, take ownership of your responsibilities and two, work hard for everything that you have. That’s why I pled guilty to my charges. I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws, I had no intent, I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”-B Griner
Despite her efforts to take accountability for her actions, the Russian courts moved forward with the sentence and fined her one million rubles, the equivalent to CA$20,965, a ruling President Biden believes is “unacceptable”.
“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.”-President Biden, Press Statement
The move could signal a future transaction between the two countries and ultimately pave the way for a US-Russia prisoner swap that would include Brittney Griner and an imprisoned Russian arms dealer. Griner’s lawyers intend to appeal the decision and are dismayed with the amount of evidence that was ignored.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA commissioner Adam Silver are standing in solidarity with Griner and have released a press statement;
Brittney, like many athletes across North America, partnered in cannabis for recovery, relief and other medical properties in an effort to steer clear of opioids and painkillers that are known to have detrimental effects to elite athlete careers.