MOSCOW — The Russian Federal Customs Service said it has detained American basketball player Brittney Griner after finding vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport, according to multiple reports including The New York Times.
Russian Customs Service did not identify the player but said she “won two Olympic gold medals with the United States,” The Times reported. The Russian news agency TASS identified the player as Brittney Griner, citing a law enforcement source.
Griner was reportedly taken into custody and a criminal case was opened into the large-scale transportation of drugs, which can carry a 10-year prison sentence in Russia, according to The Times.
Griner, 31, is a seven-time WNBA All-Star and a center for the Phoenix Mercury.
When contacted by The Associated Press on Saturday, Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, did not dispute the 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.”
The Phoenix Mercury also released a statement on Saturday morning addressing Griner’s detainment, Yahoo Sports reported.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia. We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home,” the statement read.
Griner has played in Russia for the last seven years in the winter, earning over $1 million per season — more than quadruple her WNBA salary. She last played for her Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg on Jan. 29 before the league took a two-week break in early February for the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournaments.
More than a dozen WNBA players were playing in Russia and Ukraine this winter, including league MVP Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley of the champion Chicago Sky. The WNBA confirmed to The AP on Saturday that all players besides Griner had left both countries.
Griner’s reported arrest came several weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Saturday, the State Department issued a “do not travel” advisory for Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine and urged all U.S. citizens to depart immediately, citing 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.