Brittney Griner sentenced to 9 years in Russian prison

I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of [Yekaterinburg] for my mistake I made and for the embarrassment I caused them, “Griner said in his statement.” I also want to apologize to my parents, my brothers, the Phoenix Mercury organization at home, the amazing women of the WNBA and my amazing spouse at home. “

In response to his ruling, President Joe Biden criticized Russia for “wrongfully detaining” Griner, saying he would “pursue every possible way” to bring her home.

“It is unacceptable and I ask Russia to release her immediately so that she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends and teammates,” Biden said in a statement. “My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to get Brittney and Paul Whelan home safe and sound as soon as possible.”

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also released a joint statement condemning the verdict.

“Today’s verdict and sentence are unwarranted and unfortunate, but not unexpected and Brittney Griner remains unfairly detained,” they said. “The commitment of the WNBA and the NBA to her safe return has not wavered and it is our hope that we are close to the end of this process to finally bring BG home to the United States.”

Griner had previously tested that he had used cannabis oil prescribed by his doctor to treat pain from sports injuries, but he had packed his bags in a hurry and did not intend to take them to Russia, where he was playing in the off-season of the WNBA. “Since they ended up in my bags by accident, I take responsibility, but I had no intention of smuggling or planning to smuggle [illegal substances] in Russia “, he had tested on July 27.

Griner also complained that her rights had not been read to her when she was first arrested and that she did not receive adequate translation services during the investigation.

In a letter written to Biden last month, Griner said she was “terrified” of being locked up in a Russian prison forever.

“I realize you are dealing with so many things, but please don’t forget about me and the other American inmates,” he said. “Please do everything possible to bring us home.”

Colas, Griner’s agent, said he appreciated the Biden administration’s efforts to bring the basketball star and Whelan back to the United States.

“Bringing Brittney and Paul home is the only goal, and as such, we should use all available tools,” Colas said. “We need to stay focused and united. This is a time of compassion and a shared understanding that concluding a deal to bring Americans home will be difficult, but it is urgent and the right thing to do.”