Brittney Griner reportedly facing racism, homophobia and grueling work days in Russian prison

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner

WNBA star Brittney Griner has begun her Russian prison sentence after a judge ruled she will face nine years behind bars. The decision came in August after the athlete was caught traveling with cannabis oil in her luggage earlier this year. Although the substance was prescribed by a doctor in America to treat chronic pain, it is illegal in some places overseas.

In a report from today (Nov. 28), TMZ shared that the Phoenix Mercury ball player will be subject to conditions such as “homophobia, racism and 16-hour work days.” Griner was transported to Mordovia earlier this month, and The Nation sportswriter Dave Zirin claims prisoners in that colony are barely treated with human decency. The journalist added that even medical resources are not easily obtained and prisoners have to complete tasks such as sewing uniforms for guards. Zirin also spoke with CNN and said Mordovia is known as “the land of prisons because it contains two dozen supermax prisons.” He noted that the environment is often “swampy” and “frigid.”

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Sources say it’s currently unknown if Griner will be given a bed to accommodate her 6-foot-8 height. Nadya Tolokonnikova, a musician and activist who previously spent two years in a Mordovia prison, spoke about her time in custody after being arrested in 2012. She revealed that “beatings and torture” happened often. Those close to the Olympian have continued to keep the public updated on Griner’s time in prison. “Brittney is doing as well as could be expected,” her reps said earlier this month. “Despite the fact she is alone and now nearing her ninth month in detention separated from her loved ones, she is trying to stay strong,” they continued.

“Our sister, Brittney Griner, is an American in peril in Russia. She needs the love and support of her country, sports governing bodies and every athlete on the planet to get released and home to her family. #WeAreBG #BringBGHome #BringThemHome,” the WNBPA tweeted in support of the athlete today. In August, President Biden issued a statement, saying, “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. 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.”

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