Griner’s defense also submitted evidence that anti-doping tests didn’t detect any prohibited substances in her system
Brittney Griner has a doctor’s note recommending she use cannabis to treat pain, lawyers for the imprisoned WNBA star told a Russian court Friday.
The legal submission arrived a week after the Phoenix Mercury standout, 31, pleaded guilty to possessing vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February.
“The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis. The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health,” Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina said Friday during Griner’s fourth hearing since her arrest, reported The Associated Press.
The basketball star’s defense team also submitted the results of anti-doping tests taken by Griner showing no signs of illegal substances in her system, the outlet added.
On July 7, Griner pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling drugs into Russia but added that she had no intention of breaking any laws, according to a statement released by her attorneys.
“I was in a rush packing and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bags,” Griner said.
In a hearing on Thursday, three witnesses from UMMC Yekaterinburg, the Russian team for which the two-time Olympic gold medalist has played since 2014, presented character witnesses to the court, according to NPR.
The club’s director of operations, Maksim Ryabkov, called Griner a “unique player” and added that he has personally recruited her to play in Russia, reported NPR.
“Russian fans love her as both an athlete and a personality,” continued Ryabkov.
During the proceedings in which Griner appeared in a locked white cage, the athlete became emotional, according to NPR.
“That is maybe the first time in seven years I have seen her crying,” Ryabkov said, reported NPR. “I cannot understand how hard it is for her these recent five months. And I hope she’ll fight through it.”
According to multiple sources, U.S. Embassy officials delivered a letter to Griner from President Biden at last week’s hearing in response to her emotional plea to the President on July 4, where she asked for help.
“I’m terrified I might be here forever,” she wrote, reported ESPN’s T.J. Quinn.
The U.S. State Department has officially classified Griner as wrongfully detained by the Russian Federation and is working on the athlete’s release.
“In the hearings yesterday and today what became very clear is the tremendous amount of respect and admiration both in the United States and here in Russia where Miss Griner has been playing basketball for seven years, not only for her professional achievements but for her character and integrity,” U.S. Embassy charge d’affaires Elizabeth Rood said outside the courthouse, per Associated Press.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Kremlin declined to comment on whether a prisoner exchange might be possible in Griner’s case, according to The New York Times. A separate spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry added that negotiations could only realistically begin after a verdict has been reached by the court in Moscow.
The next hearing in Griner’s case is scheduled for July 26. If convicted, the basketball star faces up to 10 years in prison.[via]