WNBA commissioner 'trying everything' to help Brittney Griner

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert has claimed she is “trying everything” to bring Brittney Griner back to the United States.

Engelbert discussed Griner’s plight before the WNBA draft, which took place yesterday.

She reaffirmed the league’s commitment to helping the American basketball star, who has been detained in Russia since mid-February on drug charges.

“I did want to start by saying we continue to be working diligently on bringing Brittney Griner home,” Engelbert said. “This is an unimaginable situation for BG to be in.”

“She continues to have our full support, and she’s just been such a great person in the league. I can’t be any more real about the situation that she’s in.

“Certainly, we’re trying everything we can, every angle, working through with her legal representation, her agent, elected leaders, the administration; just everybody in our ecosystem to try and find ways to get her home safely and as quickly as we can.”

The Russian Federal Customs Service confirmed last month that Griner was arrested in February at the Sheremetyevo Alexander S Pushkin International Airport.

She was detained after vape cartridges containing hashish oil were allegedly found in her bag.

Griner is set to remain under arrest in Moscow until at least May after a court granted an extension for investigators, as reported by Russia’s state news agency TASS.

She could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of bringing drugs into Russia.

There are fears Griner could be used as a “high-profile hostage” after the US placed sanctions on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine last month.

WNBA players have even been warned to avoid making a fuss about the situation in case Griner is turned into a pawn. Engelbert thanked the players for following this advice.

“I know we’re all frustrated, but we do need to be patient,” she said.

“I know the players have been amazing at following the advice that they’re getting and we’re getting in order not to jeopardise her safety in any way. We continue to follow that advice and continue to work on it.”

Griner, a Phoenix Mercury star, has won WNBA, Euroleague and Olympic titles. She spends her off-season competing in Russia, most recently for UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Off the court, Griner is seen as an LGBTQ+ icon. She came out publicly aged 22, and soon after became the first openly gay athlete to be endorsed by Nike.

Engelbert announced a philanthropic effort would be launched to honour Griner in the run-up to the 2022 WNBA season.

“While we’re working hard to get Brittney home, we will have a league-wide philanthropic initiative led by the Phoenix Mercury, honoring BG and modeled after her work,” she said.

“BG, for those that don’t know, founded an organization in 2016 called BG’s Heart and Soul Shoe Drive.

“The activations that we will do, the Mercury will lead, are intended to remind us of BG’s spirit of giving and do the work she’d be doing if she were here and certainly the work she will join us in when she returns.”

1 of 20
Chelsea Women

Chelsea won the Women’s Super League in May, but how many league titles do they now have?

News Now - Sport News