Today, multiple mainstream media outlets reported that former WBNA champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Phoenix Mercury All-Star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia on drug charges.
The New York Times reported that the Russian Federal Customs Service detained an American basketball player at Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow after finding hashish oil vape cartridges in her luggage. (That’s weed.) The Customs Service didn’t identify who was arrested, saying only that she’d won two Olympic gold medals.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia. We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”Statement from the Phoenix Mercury
“Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States.”Statement from the WNBA to USA Today
First and foremost, Griner should not have violated laws by bringing marijuana to Russia. Regardless of how you feel about Russia, countries’ customs and laws should be respected by visitors. If Griner is found guilty, she faces five to ten years in a Russian prison. Yikes. Not every country is free like America. A lot of Americans seem to learn this the hard way. It’s one of the reasons people hate us. Our entitlement.
Second, the fact that it took three weeks for anyone to report on this story is deeply troubling.
Yeah, that’s right.
Despite reporting on the arrest of Griner today, the crime occurred three weeks ago.
A famous American female athlete disappeared in Russia for almost a month. No one knew. Or no one said anything about it. I’m not sure which is worse.
Griner hasn’t posted on social media since Feb. 5. A statement released by the Customs Service says a criminal case has been opened into the “large-scale transportation of drugs.”Via Yahoo Sports
If an NBA athlete went missing, how long before the alarm bells are sounded?
A few days?
Especially if it was one of the faces of the league.
If an NBA athlete was arrested on drug charges in a foreign country, how long before that story was on the social media feeds of every media outlet in America?
If a male two-time Olympic gold medalist was detained in Russia, how quickly does that become a viral news story?
Maybe no one recognized her in the foreign land.
The Russians may have hid information from the public.
But what about the reporters covering the WNBA?
Or reporters covering Russia?
We have reporters covering NFTs, but not one reporter “found” this story?
Do American reporters just sit around and wait for stories to hit their inbox rather than researching and looking for story leads?
Something smells fishy.
The WNBA and NBA may have kept this quiet to protect one of its athletes. That’s a cause for concern. I’m also worried about journalism in our country. This is a huge story to miss. The secrecy Russia is able to attain from the rest of the world is terrifying too, and certainly a part of this story leaking weeks after Griner’s arrest. But most of all, it’s abhorrent to see another American woman (a famous, successful, and black woman – nonetheless), disappear – for weeks – without a trace.
Happy Women’s History Month.