The two-time olympic medalist was found guilty by a Russian court of drug smuggling.
Brittney Griner

Two-time Olympic medalist Brittney Griner has been found guilty of drug smuggling with criminal intent by a Russian court on August 5.

The WNBA star, who was originally arrested in February 2022, was sentenced to 9 years in a penal colony, in addition to paying 1 million rubles, as stated by judge Anna Sotnikova.

According to a statement shared by Griner's lawyers with PEOPLE, the nine-year verdict just below the maximum sentence of 10 years is "absolutely unreasonable" and they plan to "certainly file an appeal."

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Before the decision was read to her and lawyers made their closing arguments, the basketball star gave an emotional speech where she asked for leniency and reiterated that although she
had pled guilty for bringing in less than 1 gram of cannabis oil into Russia, she did so "inadvertently".

"That's why I pled guilty to my charges," said Griner, according to CNN. "I understand everything that's been said against me, the charges that are against me and that is why I pled guilty but I had no intents to break any Russian laws."

She added, "I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them. I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home."

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According to Reuters one of Griner's lawyers, Maria Blagovolina, presented written testimony from the doctor that provided the player with a cannabis prescription as pain medication and also exemplified that she had no criminal record or intent.

President Joe Biden also shared a statement with PEOPLE on his thoughts regarding the ruling and the next steps the United States will take as they are still working on a deal with Russian officials to bring both the Phoenix Mercury player and Paul Whelan home.


"Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney," he said. "It's unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible."