(ABC4) – American WNBA star Brittney Griner has still not returned home after being detained in Moscow amid the war in Ukraine.
Brittney Griner was last seen on camera walking through an airport just outside of Moscow. The footage shows her towering over customs agents at 6’9″.
She is last seen shaking her head at a customs agent – and a Russian mugshot of Griner appears on our TV screens weeks later.
The 31-year-old athlete is widely considered the best in her sport, and though it has been a month since her detention, little is currently known about her circumstances.
Some are upset about a lack of coverage, saying that if she were a male athlete of her stature, the news would be front-page across nearly every sports news outlet in the U.S.
Melissa Isaacson, a sportswriter and professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, says she is “the best of the best,” and that “she’s every bit the Tom Brady of her sport.”
Her accomplishments include winning a college championship, WNBA and Euroleague titles and an Olympic gold medal.
Griner is also the first openly gay athlete to be endorsed by Nike.
Her detention is particularly precarious given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it’s causing many to look at why she was there in the first place.
Nearly half of WNBA players compete overseas during the off-season as a way to make more money – reportedly earning five times more in Russia than in the U.S.
NBA stars make an estimate of 200 times more than the maximum WNBA salary.
Although Griner was arrested due to having hashish oil vape cartridges in her luggage, many people are upset that she was there in the first place, citing gender inequality as the reason.
Her disappearance is still the most important issue at the moment, and U.S. congressman John Garamendi states, “We don’t want Ms. Griner to become a pawn in the political battle that’s being waged throughout the world right now.”
Russia has reportedly blocked consular access to Griner for the U.S. embassy.
Additionally, drug charges can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in Russia.
Over 60,000 people have signed a petition demanding the U.S. government to prioritize Griner’s return, and to treat her like any other sports icon.
Click here to sign the petition for Brittney Griner’s safe return to the U.S.