American basketball superstar and Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner, 31, was sentenced to 9 years in prison by a Russian judge in a courtroom in Khimki, just outside Moscow. Previously she pleaded guilty to a drug charge. She brought vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis into a Moscow airport back in February. Griner was also fined one million rubles, the equivalent of about $16,200. Griner’s lawyers argued that Griner was using marijuana to treat pain. “I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Ekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them,” she said. “I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home.”
Griner was returning to her Russian basketball team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, after there was a pause in the season for international play. Last week that the Biden administration offered a “substantial proposal” for the return of the basketball player and fellow American Paul Whelan. After Griner was sentenced, the American President had a strong reaction. Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible,” Joe Biden said.