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Brittney Griner's Defense Argues Russian Narcotics Expert's Analysis 'Was Flawed'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 2, 2022

Brittney Griner (EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The defense team for Brittney Griner argued during a hearing Tuesday that Russian prosecutors' analysis of cannabis found in the WNBA star's luggage at a Moscow airport in February was "flawed."

Maria Blagovolina, one of Griner's lawyers, said the basketball player "admitted that she did bring something, but we need to know what she did bring," per Jim Heintz of the Associated Press.

"There are a lot of factors that will taken by the court into account," Blagovolina said after the defense team submitted evidence that Griner was granted use of cannabis to treat pain in the United States, though medical marijuana is not legal in Russia.

Griner has been under arrest in Russia for 166 days and has been classified as wrongfully detained by the U.S. State Department.

The 31-year-old Texas native pleaded guilty to drug charges in early July. In Russia, a court case still takes place following guilty pleas, and the plea is considered for potential sentencing leniency.

Griner faces up to 10 years in prison, but there are ongoing conversations between the United States and Russia about a prisoner swap.

According to Heintz, the U.S. offered Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan, but White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that Russia responded with a "bad faith" counteroffer.

"Any exchange of information on the subject should be discreet without any 'loudspeaker diplomacy,'" Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response. "Public exchange of positions will not yield any result."

Griner was detained while traveling to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason, as she's done since 2014.

The three-time Russian National League champion said during the trial she didn't purposely bring the vape canisters with cannabis oil but rather accidentally placed them in her luggage while packing in haste, per Heintz.

Closing statements are scheduled for Thursday.

Griner is one of the most decorated basketball players of the era. Her WNBA accolades include eight All-Star selections, two Defensive Player of the Year Awards and a pair of scoring titles. She won a championship with the Phoenix Mercury in 2014.

She's also a four-time EuroLeague champion with Ekaterinburg, a two-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA and a former NCAA champion at Baylor.

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