“You can’t be seen doing that.” In 2008, Brittney Griner , 18, was at a Valentine’s dinner. She barely touched her friend’s hands. “You’re great, keep it behind closed doors,” coach Kim Mulkey admonished him. A figure on the successful basketball team , Griner brought fame and sponsorships to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, but the student handbook prohibited “homosexual activities” and “contrary to biblical teaching.”
Griner later found that the WNBA League also wanted heterosexual players. She refused to participate in a makeup session for rookie players and spoke freely with Sports Illustrated . Already famous, two-time Olympic champion, and one of the best basketball players in history, Griner, the daughter of a police officer who fought in Vietnam, grew up as a black woman, queer and LGBTIQ+ activist. She supported “Black Lives Matter” and took a knee or went to the locker room in protest every time the US national anthem was played. She now has been imprisoned for 160 days in a Moscow jail. They found marijuana in her bag when she traveled to rejoin her Russian team. The following week, Russia invaded Ukraine. Griner has a new hearing today before a court that can sentence her to ten years in prison. President Joe Biden declared her case a “national emergency.” He declared her “unfairly detained”. According to Washington, the trial is a “farce.” And Griner is a “political prisoner.”
Strictly speaking, if Griner had been found with marijuana in her home state of Texas, she would have been arrested as well. And she is at risk of being imprisoned for up to “twenty years, worse than in Russia,” journalist Jean-Gabriel Fernandez wrote in Shepherd Express. “Each year,” Fernandez said, “half a million Americans are arrested, tried, and often incarcerated by American police for simple possession of marijuana.” Specialist Maritza Pérez affirmed that Griner “is the last victim” of “the war on drugs” that the United States itself exported to the whole world.” And that Biden“It would be in a better position” before Russia if it had at least fulfilled its promise to decriminalize marijuana at the national level, as is the case in a fortnight of states. Just yesterday, the United States Senate began a historic step to reform the law. “We are closer than ever” to “ensuring justice for those who were victims of the War on Drugs,” Democratic Senator Cory Booker tweeted.
The Griner case (the force of sport) also opened the debate on US citizens convicted in other countries and who claim innocence. Like Griner , American professor Mark Fogel also claimed to be a medical cannabis patient when she was arrested in Russia in August 2021 with 17 grams of marijuana in her luggage. Last month she was sentenced to fourteen years in prison. Mark Swidan has been in prison for ten years in China, sentenced to death for buying and selling drugs. The government was forced to speak to the family of Paul Whelan, a former Marine who has been imprisoned in Russia for 16 years on charges of espionage. Conservative media were outraged after the version that Griner, “an athlete who did not even respect our anthem”, can be exchanged for Viktor Bout, a powerful Russian arms dealer, imprisoned for sixteen years in the United States.
Russia, of course, denies that it is using Griner as a hostage. She says the athlete herself has already pleaded guilty. She recalls its harsh anti-drug laws and asks the United States to stop “politicizing” the case. They claim for her from Megan Rapinoe to LeBron James . From the United States Senate to over a thousand black women leaders, including the daughter of Martin Luther King . The claim was silent, first. So as not to harm the political negotiation. The WNBA itself, today the most combative League in sports in the United States, and which now claims massively for Griner , had initially adhered to the caution. Little did they know that Griner(31 years old, 2.06m pivot, multiple champion, seven All Star seasons) had a base salary of $228,000 a year in Phoenix Arizona (LeBron’s is $41 million; an NBA rookie earns $925,268). Sixty percent of WNBA players improve their income by competing in other Leagues. Griner joined the remarkable Diana Taurassi (daughter of Argentines in the United States) in 2015 to play for the Russian UMMC Ekaterinburg. Together they won three national and four European leagues.
The NBA itself , a social spokesperson in modern times, founder of the WNBA , still maintains a low-profile policy today. None of the thirty team owners wanted to talk to The New York Times about the Griner case . They know that a negotiated release takes an average of four years. And that Griner , despite the fact that she detected less than a gram of cannabis oil for a vaporizer inhaler, she is accused of “large-scale drug transportation” and she can be sentenced to ten years in prison. And that the fame of the sport sometimes helps. But that she, other times, she can become a boomerang.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.