Mar 5, 2022 - Sports

WNBA star Brittney Griner detained in Russia

Brittney Griner during a Phoenix Mercury game. Photo: Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Russian customs has detained WNBA star Brittney Griner, according to a statement from the league and an Instagram post by the player's wife.

Driving the news: The alleged detention comes as tensions between Russia and the U.S. escalate after the invasion of Ukraine last week.

  • The sports world has already initiated multiple boycotts in response to Russia's attack.
  • Agents allegedly detained Griner after finding vape cartridges in her luggage, the New York Times reports. Russian news agencies first identified Griner through anonymous sources.
  • “Brittney Griner has the WNBA's full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States,” the WNBA said.
  • A State Department spokesperson said they were aware of reports of a U.S. citizen arrested in Moscow and were “ready to provide all appropriate consular services.”

What they're saying: Griner's team, the Phoenix Mercury, said in a statement that they were also closely monitoring her situation in Russia.

Griner's wife, Cherelle, wrote on Instagram: "Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me regarding my wife’s safe return from Russia. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated,"

  • "I love my wife wholeheartedly, so this message comes during one of the weakest moments of my life. I understand that many of you have grown to love BG over the years and have concerns and want details. Please honor our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely."

The big picture: WNBA players often compete overseas — including in Russia — during the league’s off-season because of the lucrative salaries.

  • Griner, who is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014.
  • Last week, the WNBA told ESPN in a statement that players competing in Ukraine had already left the country and that the league was in contact with players in Russia.

Of note: GLAAD issued a statement in support of Griner, who is openly out.

  • "This story is developing, but we are concerned for her well-being, given everything that is happening in Russia right now."
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