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Will WNBA players go to Russia this year?

Russia has been an offseason destination for WNBA players, but not this year

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Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner in the WNBA Finals.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner in the 2021 WNBA basketball finals. Griner is currently detained in Russia.

Ralph Freso, Associated Press

For several decades, WNBA players have traveled to Russia in the offseason to compete because of higher salaries, but this year they will be going elsewhere in light of Brittney Griner’s legal woes, according to The Associated Press.

What happened with Brittney Griner?

Griner is an American women’s basketball star who was convicted of smuggling drugs deliberately into Russia. CNN reports that she has been sentenced to nine years in jail.

According to Fox News, the American basketball player brought vape cartridges and cannabis oil to Moscow. She said to the court prior to her sentence, “I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime.”

The Biden administration has been negotiating to bring Griner back to America.

Where will WNBA players go?

About a dozen WNBA players went to Russia to compete last winter and none will return this year. According to the New York Post, many of the players will relocate to other destinations to compete this offseason.

Breanna Stewart, one of Griner’s teammate in Russia, will be going to Turkey to play this winter. “Honestly my time in Russia has been wonderful, but especially with BG still wrongfully detained there, nobody’s going to go there until she’s home,” Stewart told The Associated Press.

Other players are going to compete in Israel, Spain, Italy and France, according to The New York Times.