Russia Reportedly Detains WNBA's Brittney Griner at Airport Near Moscow

Russian officials reportedly detained American professional basketball player Brittney Griner Saturday over drug possession at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow.

She was arrested after the Russian Federal Customs Service (FCS) found vape cartridges that contained hashish oil, The New York Times reported. She is currently in custody while an investigation is still ongoing.

Hashish oil, or hash oil, is a marijuana concentrate that has a high concentration of the psychoactive ingredient, THC.

The FCS didn't identify in their statement the WNBA player as Griner, but said that the player arrested won two Olympic gold medals with the U.S. However, Russian online newspaper Lenta.ru identified the player as Griner, citing a source from the FCS.

"In February 2022, when a U.S. citizen who arrived on a flight from New York was passing through the 'green' corridor at Sheremetyevo Airport, a service dog of the canine department of Sheremetyevo Customs indicated the possible presence of drugs in the escorted baggage," the FCS said according to the Russian newspaper.

A criminal case against Griner has been launched as per article 229.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation that stipulates "smuggling" of drugs. Transporting drugs can lead to a sentence of up to 10 years in prison in Russia.

The FCS released a video of a traveler who is believed to be Griner going through security checks, wearing a mask and a black sweatshirt, according to the Times. A person seen in the video appeared to have been taking out a package from her bag.

"Brittney Griner has the WNBA's full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States," a spokesperson from the WNBA told Newsweek without revealing any further details.

Griner who plays for the Phoenix Mercury has won gold medals with the WNBA in the U.S. in 2016 and 2021. She also played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg for some years. Some WNBA players play in Russia during off-seasons of the American league for larger salaries, according to the Times. However, some players began reportedly leaving after the invasion of Ukraine started.

"The few WNBA players who were competing this off-season in Ukraine are no longer in the country," the WNBA said on February 24, according to ESPN. "The league has also been in contact with WNBA players who are in Russia, either directly or through their agents. We will continue to closely monitor the situation."

Griner's reported arrest comes amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine when President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" to "demilitarize and de-Nazify" the Eastern European country. Shortly after his announcement, Ukrainian authorities reported missile strikes across the country, and Russian ground and air forces were seen moving into territories controlled by the government in Kyiv.

Hundreds of casualties were reported after the first missile hit Ukraine, according to an Interior Ministry source, which saw thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the country to seek refuge in safer neighboring nations.

The story has been updated to include comments from the WNBA.

Russia Reportedly Detains WNBA’s Brittney Griner
WNBA player Brittney Griner has been reportedly arrested in Russia for the possession of cannabis oil and an investigation into the incident is currently ongoing. Above, Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury moves against Stefanie Dolson #31 of the Chicago Sky during Game Three of the 2021 WNBA Finals at Wintrust Arena on October 15, 2021 in Chicago. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images