Considered one of the best basketball players in the United States and the world, Olympic legend and pioneer of the gay, bisexual and transgender community, Britney Greiner is at risk of losing the best years of her sports career behind bars in Russian prisons after be convicted of drug trafficking. she possession for nine years.
On Thursday, a Russian court sentenced Greiner to nine years in prison for drug trafficking, a harsh sentence that US President Joe Biden called “unacceptable” and paves the way for a possible prisoner swap between Washington and Moscow.
The Phoenix Mercury player was arrested in February in Moscow, just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in possession of packages of electronic cigarettes containing liquid cannabis, and fell into the trap of the geopolitical crisis that has arisen between the United States and Russia.
The judge, Anna Sotnikova, announced that “the court found the arrested woman guilty” for drug possession and smuggling, according to an AFP journalist who attended the hearing at the court in Khimki, near Moscow.
The judge added that Greiner was sentenced to “nine years in prison in a prison complex” and to pay a fine of one million rubles (about 16,000 euros at current exchange rates).
Biden condemned the ruling, saying in a statement issued immediately after his announcement: “This is unacceptable and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can join her partner, loved ones, friends and teammates,” declaring her intent. of “working tirelessly” to return it to the country.
And Greiner is among only 11 players to have won an Olympic gold medal, the WNBA, the Women’s World Cup and the American Universiade.
The player helped lead the US team to the Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016, then in Tokyo last year, to contribute to the seventh consecutive Olympic crown for her country’s women, matching the team’s achievement male between 1936 and 1968, in the longest series. of consecutive Olympic titles for any national team in the history of the Games.
In February 2013, Greiner came out as gay during an interview with Sports Illustrated, and later, in an interview with People magazine, said he made the switch because “I was just trying to help,” adding, “I’m just trying to make things easier.” things to the generation.” Following”.
It was the first endorsement deal with the sportswear company Nike with an athlete who came out to reveal his homosexuality.
Greiner protested the deaths of African-Americans Briona Taylor and George Floyd during a wave of nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States in 2020, and suggested that the American anthem not be played before games.
Greiner is a champion at all levels of basketball and played in Russia for many years outside of the WNBA season for Ekaterinburg, like many players seeking additional income during the national league suspension period.
Greiner won three Russian league titles and four EuroLeague titles in Yekaterinburg colors before her Russian career turned into a nightmare in February after she was found in e-cigarette packs containing liquid cannabis.
The Phoenix Mercury star said he got permission from an American doctor to use “medical cannabis” to ease the pain he suffers from multiple injuries.
Greiner was supposed to be a mainstay in the American women’s quest to win a fourth straight world title later this year in Australia, as she did with the 2014 and 2018 teams, but her Russian nightmare will deprive her of that. , unless an agreement is reached between the two countries for the exchange of prisoners.
The United States has not lost a game at the Olympics since 1992 and has not surrendered a world title since 2006.
“Play on a different level”
The 2.06m POI was born in Houston and led Baylor University to the 2012 US Collegiate Championships; He set a record with 223 defensive blocks (block shots) in his first season in the 2009-2010 Varsity League, and his college career ended with a record 748 block shots.
The player was the number one choice for the Phoenix Mercury team in the 2013 “Draft” dedicated to recruiting players from American colleges and foreign leagues, and soon made her mark by helping lead her team to the 2014 “WNBA” title. . .
The center player, an eight-time All-Star, was the league’s leading scorer in 2017 and 2018, and led the league in defensive blocks in eight of her nine seasons in the league, and was selected twice as the best defender.
During last year’s MLS final, which the Mercury lost to the Chicago Sky, teammate Diana Torazi said, “We take her beauty for granted. We know who is the bread and butter on our team. Bae J (Britney Grainer) is playing on a different level.”
Greiner scored an average of 4 saves per game during the 2015 season, a feat no player could achieve. During his American League career he averaged 17.7 points with 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 defensive blocks and 1.8 assists in 254 games, all in the Mercury colors.
Greiner married fellow player Glory Johnson in 2015, but later pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly conduct and domestic violence treatment counseling sessions.
And the WNBA decided to ban Greiner and Johnson for seven games, and the couple divorced in 2016, but she came back and married Sheryl Watson in 2019.