Growing concern over Brittney Griner’s detainment in Russia

 Whilst WNBA star, Brittney Griner, was arrested in February after customs officials allegedly found hashish oil in her luggage in an airport near Moscow, news of her detainment didn’t break until last weekend. The exact date of her arrest remains unconfirmed and the current whereabouts of the star are equally as vague. There has been growing concern for Brittney’s wellbeing and safety. A photograph of the out athlete was released on Russian state TV of her in custody holding up a piece of paper, though notably what is written on it is not visible.

Those following Brittney are extremely concerned as her detainment has occurred alongside the horrific Russian invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this month, the US embassy in Moscow warned citizens not to travel to Russia “due to the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine, the potential for harassment against US citizens by Russian government security officials”. Due to the current circumstances it is unclear how much support is available to Brittney. 

Throughout her career, Brittney has been an LGBTQI icon in the world of sport and has prompted major improvements regarding the treatment of queer athletes. Many worry that the seven-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medallist could be at even higher risk due to Russia’s restriction on gay rights. Our thoughts and prayers are with Brittney and her loved ones. 

Brittney’s wife of nearly three years, Cherrelle Griner, shared a post on social media writing:

“There are no words to express this pain. I’m hurting, we’re hurting…”

“Please honour our privacy as we continue to work on getting my wife home safely.”

Brittney’s case has also highlighted inequalities when it comes to gender in sports. With many pondering what this would look like if someone like LeBron James was the one being detained. Many WNBA players travel to play overseas during offseason due to pay disparity compared to NBA players. It is a big wake up call to see the horror that Brittney has had to go to and what led her to Moscow in the first place. We hope that she is returned home safely.


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