Who is Brittney Griner and why was she arrested in Russia | basketball

+ Brittney Griner is sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia
+ NBA and WNBA criticize Griner’s conviction: “Unjustifiable”

Griner has a full résumé, with two Olympic and two world gold medals with the US national team, as well as a WNBA title with the Phoenix Mercury, a team he has defended in the league since 2013, when he was selected with the first overall pick in the draft.

Brittany Griner — Photo: Pavel Pavlov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The 31-year-old has been selected to the WNBA All-Star Game eight times (2013 to 2015, 2017 to 2019, 2021 and 2022) and won the Defensive Player of the Season award twice (2014 and 2015). .

Like most WNBA stars, Brittney uses the league vacation to play for teams in other countries as a way to earn more money. That’s how she arrived in Russia, where, since 2014, she defends the UMMC Ekaterinburg.

In March, amid growing tension between the US and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, the athlete defied warnings from people close to her and boarded to present herself to the Russian team for the dispute of the new season.

Upon arriving at the airport, she was arrested after authorities found vaporizer capsules containing hash oil in her luggage, she said, used with medical authorization to treat chronic pain.

The arrest of a woman, black, lesbian and famous athlete has gained even more notoriety in a country presided over by Vladimir Putin, who has already spoken out against same-sex marriage in Russia, saying he would never allow it to become official.

Griner celebrates title with UMMC Ekaterinburg — Photo: BSR Agency/Getty Images

Since then, the Joe Biden administration has been looking for ways to release the player and return her safely to US territory, according to White House spokesman Anthony Blinken.

judgment and condemnation

Despite criticism for not making a broader campaign asking for the player’s release, the US government believes that giving more publicity to the case could hinder negotiations. For months, until the trial began in July, there was not much news about the case.

In court, Griner admitted that he had the capsules and presented a medical report from the United States explaining that he uses cannabis for treatment, however, under Russian law, marijuana is not allowed in any form and for any reason in the country. Experts believe admission is the best way to alleviate the penalty, but it is not known whether the award had any practical effect on the player.

Brittney Griner celebrates her gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics (Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

In recent weeks, Anthony Blinken has claimed that the US government has been negotiating a prisoner exchange with Russia as a way to free Brittney Griner. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was open to the proposal.

The idea is that the Russians free Griner and Paul Whelan, a former US sailor arrested for spying in 2018, in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms merchant known as “The Dealer of Death”, arrested in the United States for “negotiating with people who want to kill Americans”.

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