Double Olympic basketball gold medallist Brittney Griner of the United States has been arrested on alleged drugs charges in Moscow ©Getty Images

Double Olympic gold medallist Brittney Griner has been arrested in Moscow on drugs charges, USA Basketball has confirmed.

The arrest came as tensions between Moscow and the West have soared over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian Federal Customs Service announced in a statement that an inspection of hand luggage carried by a United States citizen who arrived on a flight from New York City on an unspecified date in February confirmed the presence of narcotic drugs.

Russian authorities revealed a drug-sniffing dog detected "the possible presence of narcotic substances" and X-ray screening of her luggage found electronic vape cartridges with hashish oil.

The statement did not identify the jailed woman but said she was "a member of the US National Basketball Association, a two-time Olympic basketball champion in the US team".

The Customs Service said the detained woman faces a potential jail term of five to 10 years.

USA Basketball officially revealed that it was the 31-year-old Griner, a member of the US team that won Olympic gold medals at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

They said on Twitter that it was "aware of and closely monitoring the legal situation facing Brittney Griner in Russia".

It added: "Brittney has always handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball and her safety and well-being are our primary concerns."

The 6ft 9in Griner is a seven-time all-star centre for the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).

"We love and support Brittney, and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home," Phoenix Mercury said in a statement.

Griner, also a member of the US team that won the International Basketball Federation World Cup in 2014 and 2018, is the only woman in US college history to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots.

Griner has played in Russia during the WNBA off-season for several years, where she earns a salary of more than a $1 million (£755,000/€955,000), nearly five times what she can earn in the US.

Griner has represented UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2014 with team-mates Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart.

UMMC Ekaterinburg are Russia’s dominant team, having won the national championship for 13 consecutive years since 2009.

Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s agent, claimed that she remained in close contact with Griner, her legal representation in Russia, her teams in both countries and the WNBA.

"As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case, but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern," she said.

Brittney Griner has played for UMMC Ekaterinburg on a multi-million dollar contract since 2014, winning the Russian Championship in every season ©Getty Images
Brittney Griner has played for UMMC Ekaterinburg on a multi-million dollar contract since 2014, winning the Russian Championship in every season ©Getty Images

In 2016, Griner's confidential World Anti-Doping Agency medical file was published following a cyber attack by Russian hacking group Fancy Bears'.

She was among several leading names from the US, Great Britain and other European countries the group alleged had taken banned drugs.

The documents released, however, related to "therapeutic use exemptions" (TUE) obtained by the athletes from various sporting bodies. 

TUEs allow competitors to take drugs in order to treat medical conditions.

There was no suggestion of wrongdoing by the athletes.

In 2014, Griner announced her engagement to fellow WNBA player Glory Johnson.

The following year they were arrested on charges of assault and disorderly conduct after police responded to a fight between the two in their home in Phoenix. 

Both had sustained some injuries.

The WNBA suspended Griner and Johnson for seven games each after Griner pled guilty to disorderly conduct charges. 

Griner was also required to complete 26 weeks of domestic violence counselling.

The pair still married but split up after less than a month together.