US Olympic Committee joins efforts to release WNBA star

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WASHINGTON — Over the past two months, the sports world has been acutely aware that the American basketball community, led by the WNBA, has been working behind the scenes to try to secure the release of Brittney Griner after her arrest in Russia on an allegation of carrying cannabis oil in his luggage.

But the WNBA, NBA and USA Basketball have had another ally in their efforts on Griner’s behalf: the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

CEO Sarah Hirshland said in an interview Monday that the USOPC has offered support to organizations trying to help Griner, who won Olympic gold medals as a member of the U.S. women’s basketball team. in 2016 in Rio and 2021 in Tokyo.

“The resources between us, between USA Basketball, the NBA as a league, the WNBA — we’ve all relied on every friendship and resource we have from the State Department to the people we all work with,” Hirshland said. . “In many cases, it’s actually a lot of the same people. So there’s a lot of redundancy between all of us relying on the resources that you would naturally say help.

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“I don’t know if I see a place where we look at the situation and say we can do more,” she continued, “unless circumstances change and we feel like there is in a. If we felt there was anything we could do to be helpful, we would do it in a heartbeat.

Hirshland also said the USOPC has had conversations with the International Olympic Committee about Griner, although she said she has not spoken directly with IOC President Thomas Bach.

“The IOC is paying close attention to her and her health and safety,” Hirshland said. “I would say they are concerned, they are still concerned about the athletes and want to understand the circumstances and want to have as much information and the facts as they can and want to know if they can be of help.

When asked if the USOPC should become more publicly involved in Griner’s case, Hirshland said she hoped not.

“Not because we don’t want to be involved, but because it would mean something really terrible is happening,” she said. “So I would say I hope not. »

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