US basketball star Brittney Griner treated injuries with medical cannabis, defense argues

US basketball star Brittney Griner treated injuries with medical cannabis, defense argues
US basketball player Brittney Griner’s defense team argues she used medical cannabis to assuage pain from injuries, like many other elite international athletes. (AP)
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Updated 26 July 2022

US basketball star Brittney Griner treated injuries with medical cannabis, defense argues

US basketball star Brittney Griner treated injuries with medical cannabis, defense argues
  • Brittney Griner, a Women’s National Basketball Association, has played in Russia during the league’s offseason

KHIMKI, Russia: The defense team of US basketball player Brittney Griner, detained in Russia on drug charges, argued in court on Tuesday that she had used medical cannabis to assuage pain from injuries, like many other elite international athletes.
Griner, a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star who has played in Russia during the league’s offseason, was detained at a Moscow airport on Feb. 17 with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. Medical marijuana is illegal in Russia.
She faces a possible jail sentence of up to 10 years in a case that has highlighted the fraught relations between Russia and the United States at a time of heightened tension over Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.
A narcology expert summoned by the defense argued that medical cannabis was widely used to treat athletes where it was legal, and often had fewer side effects than other painkillers.
“With the prescription in place, Brittney may have used it for medical but not recreational purposes,” said lawyer Maria Blagovolina, partner at Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin and Partners law firm.
Wearing round-rimmed glasses and a black and grey sweatshirt with “Black Lives For Peace” on the back, Griner listened to the proceedings via a translator.
Before taking a seat in the defendant’s cage, she held up a lined sheet of paper with pictures of her two best friends, a teammate and her wife Cherelle wearing her #42 Phoenix Mercury jersey, her WNBA team.
The two-time Olympic champion, who has appealed to US President Joe Biden to secure her release, has pled guilty but denied she intended to break Russian law.
Griner — known as “BG” to basketball fans — will appear in court again on Wednesday, where she could be called upon to testify. A further hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 2, Griner’s defense team said.
US officials and prominent athletes argue the 31-year-old has been wrongly detained and have called for her to be released immediately. The Russian authorities dismiss the US criticism, with the Kremlin saying the case has nothing to do with politics.


Kirk Cousins rallies NFC to 35-33 victory over AFC in Pro Bowl

Kirk Cousins rallies NFC to 35-33 victory over AFC in Pro Bowl
Updated 11 sec ago

Kirk Cousins rallies NFC to 35-33 victory over AFC in Pro Bowl

Kirk Cousins rallies NFC to 35-33 victory over AFC in Pro Bowl
  • Cousins completed 15 of 19 passes for 150 yards in the NFL’s reformatted all-star contest, which gave the NFC the victory

LAS VEGAS: For Kirk Cousins, it wasn’t quite the NFL-record 33-point comeback against the Indianapolis Colts to win the NFC North.

However, Cousins was the quarterback for the third and final flag football game at the Pro Bowl on Sunday for a reason.

NFC coach Eli Manning wanted Cousins in that spot to decide the overall winner, and the Minnesota Vikings QB responded by throwing three touchdown passes to rally the NFC to a 35-33 victory over the AFC in the Pro Bowl Games and end that conference’s five-game losing streak.

Cousins completed 15 of 19 passes for 150 yards in the NFL’s reformatted all-star contest, which gave the NFC the victory.

“It’s hard to wait around that long to play, but I appreciate Eli letting me be the third guy and fun to go in there and be the closer,” Cousins said.

Based on the earlier flag games and skills competitions, the AFC took a 21-15 lead into the final flag game.

The Pro Bowl changed its format this season, eliminating the traditional game and replacing it with three flag games played on a 50-yard field and a series of skills competitions.

Each of the first two flag games was worth six points and each skills event was three. The total points were accumulated to form the score entering the final flag game.

“I thought it was awesome,” San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey said. “Guys had fun. It got intense there at the end.”

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams noticed the NFC took the game more seriously than expected, such as sending Cowboys safety KaVontae Turpin at the quarterback.

“Hopefully, next year the NFC will actually play some man and not sit back in Cover-2 the whole time and blitz one of the fastest men in the league,” Adams said. “Interesting technique by them, but it was still a good time.”

Brothers Eli and Peyton Manning each have two Super Bowl rings, but Eli has this Pro Bowl victory over his older sibling.

“I am the greatest coach of the Mannings,” Eli said tongue-in-cheek on the NFL’s Twitter account. “I am so much better at coaching than Peyton, it’s unbelievable.”

He wasn’t the only brother to earn bragging rights. Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs intercepted a pass off a trick play from Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

The Cleveland Browns, however, announced defensive end Myles Garrett dislocated a toe Sunday, but X-rays were negative.

Garrett played with a sprained shoulder this season from a car accident in September, but still had a team-record 16 sacks.

Injuries were something the NFL hoped to avoid by switching to this new format.

Though tackling wasn’t allowed, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey leveled Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill at the goal line.

Cousins said he hopes youngsters watching the Pro Bowl will want to participate in flag football and help that version of the sport grow.

The change to a flag game took some getting used to, but Cousins said that also made it more fun.

“You’re kind of drawing stuff up in the dirt,” he said. “It’s not as defined of a plan, so some of our guys were coming into the huddle saying, ‘Hey, I think if we did this.’ You try to listen to them and incorporate it. So it was fun, but also a little hectic.”

McCaffrey agreed.

“Learning the rules was a little tricky because this was so different,” McCaffrey said. “But I think everybody learned pretty quick and had fun.”

The Pro Bowl has received quite a bit of criticism in recent years, but the NFL keeps the event for a reason — fans pay attention.

The announced crowd of 58,331 was more than 2,000 more than last year, also played at Allegiant Stadium.

No site has been announced for next year’s Pro Bowl, but it’s unlikely the NFL will want that event to be played in the same venue just before the Super Bowl, which will be in Las Vegas.


Marseille lose 3-1 to Nice, Monaco triumph to keep pressure on

Marseille lose 3-1 to Nice, Monaco triumph to keep pressure on
Updated 06 February 2023

Marseille lose 3-1 to Nice, Monaco triumph to keep pressure on

Marseille lose 3-1 to Nice, Monaco triumph to keep pressure on
  • Strasbourg beat Montpellier 2-0 at home to go 17th as they try to move out of the relegation zone

PARIS: Second-place Marseille saw their unbeaten run end as they lost 3-1 at home to Nice on Sunday to slip eight points behind French league leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

Marseille’s first league defeat in 10 games means they were only ahead of third-place Lens on goal difference, with in-form Monaco now two points back in fourth spot. Third place secures a spot in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League next season.

Marseille fans got a first look at club-record signing Vitinha, a forward who joined from Portuguese side Braga for €32 million ($34.5 million). Terem Moffi made his debut for eighth-place Nice after joining from Lorient, where he scored 12 goals this season.

Neither made much of an impression in a first half where Nice’s superior pressing game troubled Marseille and prevented them from getting the ball regularly to playmaker Dimitri Payet.

Vitinha’s lack of familiarity with his teammates and the 35-year-old Payet’s tiring legs played into Nice’s high-octane game and the visitors scored twice at the end of the first half.

Striker Gaetan Laborde’s shot was saved by goalkeeper Pau Lopez but forward Sofiane Diop followed up to head in off the post in the 38th minute. Nice’s second goal in the 44th was similar as Lopez pushed away a shot from midfielder Khephren Thuram, and this time Laborde followed up.

Marseille coach Igor Tudor replaced Vitinha and Payet, with Ruslan Malinovskyi and Alexis Sanchez coming on for the second half. Malinovskyi pulled one back in the 60th with his first goal for the club, turning in a cross from left back Jonathan Clauss.

But Algeria forward Billal Brahimi scored his first goal for Nice in the 86th with a fine curling shot.

Meanwhile, Monaco extended their unbeaten run to seven matches with a 2-0 win at Clermont.

Early goals from central defender Guillermo Maripan and striker Breel Embolo allowed Monaco to control the game. Coach Philippe Clement’s side is in good form heading into next Saturday’s home game against PSG.

Maripan used his aerial ability to head in from Caio Henrique’s cross in the third minute. Ten minutes later Japan forward Takumi Minamino won the ball and fed Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin, whose pinpoint cross was headed in by Embolo.

Lens managed only a 1-1 draw at Brest. Defender Jonathan Gradit equalized from close range in the 83rd for Lens after Brest goalkeeper Marco Bizot miskicked the ball following a corner. Striker Jeremy Le Douaron put Brest ahead in the 54th when he slid to meet Pierre Lees-Melou’s low cross to the back post.

Strasbourg beat Montpellier 2-0 at home to go 17th as they try to move out of the relegation zone, with striker Habib Diallo scoring both goals. Diallo netted after just 13 seconds from Dimitri Lienard’s cross and grabbed his second on the stroke of halftime, with the home side down to 10 men after Jean-Eudes Aholou’s red card in the 33rd.

Nantes won 2-0 at Corsican side Ajaccio with second-half goals from forward Evann Guessand and midfielder Ludovic Blas.

Rock-bottom Angers finally snapped their 13-game losing streak — a French league record — but could only draw 0-0 at Lorient.

English striker Folarin Balogun failed to add to his league-leading 14 goals but Reims extended its unbeaten run to 14 games with a 0-0 draw at 19th-place Auxerre, who had lost their seven previous games and kept a rare clean sheet.

On Saturday, Lionel Messi’s second-half strike helped a lackluster PSG beat Toulouse 2-1.


Bayern down Wolfsburg 4-2 to reclaim Bundesliga lead

Bayern down Wolfsburg 4-2 to reclaim Bundesliga lead
Updated 06 February 2023

Bayern down Wolfsburg 4-2 to reclaim Bundesliga lead

Bayern down Wolfsburg 4-2 to reclaim Bundesliga lead
  • Wolfsburg pressured from the start but Bayern struck first in the ninth minute when Coman’s cross for Muller evaded everyone and crept inside the far post
  • Second-half goals from Jens Stage and Marvin Ducksch earned Werder Bremen a 2-0 win at Stuttgart

BERLIN: Bayern Munich held on despite Joshua Kimmich’s sending off to beat Wolfsburg 4-2 and return to the top of the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Kimmich was sent off with his second yellow card in the 54th but Wolfsburg was unable to make its dominance count as the visitors delivered a lesson in efficiency.

Kingsley Coman scored twice and Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala added two more while Bayern also needed goalkeeper Yann Sommer at his best to secure the team’s first Bundesliga win of the year.

“The result was important, the victory matters above all else,” Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said. “We were too careless after the third goal, not concentrated enough and we allowed a bit too much. But we can be positive looking ahead with these three points.”

It was enough for Bayern to move back to one point clear of Union Berlin.

Wolfsburg had 22 shots at goal compared to the 10-time defending champions’ nine.

Wolfsburg pressured from the start but Bayern struck first in the ninth minute when Coman’s cross for Muller evaded everyone and crept inside the far post.

Coman wasn’t finished. The France winger met João Cancelo’s cross with a volley for 2-0 five minutes later, right after Wolfsburg missed a great opportunity to level.

Muller, making his 427th appearance for Bayern to equal Gerd Muller’s record, celebrated by heading in Kimmich’s free kick for Bayern’s third in only the 19th.

Despite the goals, Wolfsburg remained competitive and deservedly pulled one back through Jakub Kaminski before the break.

The home team pushed for more in the scond half, missing two good chances before Kimmich was sent off with his second yellow card for a foul on Maximilian Arnold.

Wolfsburg enjoyed more possession but failed to make it count before Musiala snatched Bayern’s fourth with a fine individual effort in the 73rd.

Mattias Svanberg pulled another back for Wolfsburg in the 81st and Yannick Gerhardt thought he’d made it 4-3 three minutes later, only to see the goal ruled out through VAR for an apparent foul in the buildup.

Earlier, second-half goals from Jens Stage and Marvin Ducksch earned Werder Bremen a 2-0 win at Stuttgart for the visitors’ second consecutive victory.

It lifted promoted Bremen to eighth while Stuttgart dropped back into the relegation zone. Stuttgart haven’t won a game since mid-November.


Barcelona exploit Madrid’s stumble to open 8-point lead

Barcelona exploit Madrid’s stumble to open 8-point lead
Updated 06 February 2023

Barcelona exploit Madrid’s stumble to open 8-point lead

Barcelona exploit Madrid’s stumble to open 8-point lead
  • Alba, Gavi and Raphinha scored a goal each in the second half to give Barcelona their fifth straight victory in the league

MADRID: Barcelona took advantage of Real Madrid’s stumble to kick off the second half of the season with another win and enjoy their biggest lead so far at the top of the Spanish league.

After Madrid’s 1-0 loss at Mallorca, Barcelona extended their 10-game winning streak in all competitions with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Sevilla on Sunday to open an eight-point lead over Madrid after 20 of 38 rounds.

It is the biggest lead by any team this season, putting the Catalan club in firm control as they chase their first league title since 2018-19.

“We are having a great season. We have been playing well, not giving many chances for our opponents,” Barcelona defender Jordi Alba said. “It’s eight points. There’s a lot of league left, but it’s a good gap.”

Alba, Gavi and Raphinha scored a goal each in the second half to give Barcelona their fifth straight victory in the league.

The last game Barcelona failed to win was a 1-1 league draw against Espanyol last year.

Sevilla, who got off to a surprisingly awful start to the season, were coming off two straight league wins that had helped it move further away from the relegation zone. They dropped to 16th place with the loss, two points from the drop zone.

Marco Asensio missed a penalty kick in Madrid’s loss at Mallorca in their last match before traveling to Morocco to play at the Club World Cup.

Madrid were depleted by injuries and rested some players ahead of the Club World Cup,

“We already expected a very tough match,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “We had our chances but couldn’t take advantage of them.”

Ancelotti couldn’t count on several injured starters, including striker Karim Benzema, defender Eder Militao and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was dropped from the squad at the last minute after getting injured during the warmup. Ancelotti also rested midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, who came on in the second half.

Asensio missed a chance to equalize when his 60th-minute penalty kick was saved by Mallorca goalkeeper Pedrag Rajkovic after Madrid forward Vinicius Junior had been fouled. Madrid’s last chance was a header by Antonio Rüdiger that went narrowly wide deep into stoppage time.

The hosts got on the board with an own-goal by Nacho Fernandez, who was replacing Militao in defense. Nacho went for a high cross and deflected the ball into his own net over goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, who started in place of Courtois.

“I hit the ball with my head and unfortunately it went into the top corner,” Nacho said. “It was a complicated match, against a team that is having a good season. It’s a pity that we let three points get away.”

Madrid were coming off a win against Valencia after being held by Real Sociedad. Its opponent in the semifinals of the Club World Cup on Wednesday will be Egyptian club Al Ahly.

It was the second win in three league matches for Mallorca, and the fourth straight at home. They remained midtable with 28 points from 20 matches.

“It’s a good result, moves us further away from the relegation zone,” Mallorca’s Mexican coach Javier Aguirre said. “But there are many matches left, we can’t relax.”

Vinicius was shown a yellow card and will be suspended for Madrid’s next league game against last-place Elche.

Real Sociedad missed a chance to move within three points of Madrid after losing 1-0 to Valladolid at home.

It was the third winless game for the Basque Country club after a nine-game winning streak in all competitions. Sociedad was coming off a 1-0 loss to Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey, and a 0-0 draw at Madrid in the league.

Newly signed Canadian forward Cyle Larin scored a second-half winner for 13th-place Valladolid, who have won two in a row after five straight losses in all competitions.

Valencia’s struggles continued with a 1-0 defeat at Girona, a result that extended their losing streak to five matches in all competitions.

Valencia have only one win in its last 12 league matches and is sitting just outside the relegation zone.

Girona moved to 11th place.


Martinez scores again as Inter beat Milan in Serie A derby

Martinez scores again as Inter beat Milan in Serie A derby
Updated 06 February 2023

Martinez scores again as Inter beat Milan in Serie A derby

Martinez scores again as Inter beat Milan in Serie A derby
  • It was Martinez’s 12th league goal of the season, putting him four behind leading Serie A goalscorer Victor Osimhen

MILAN: World Cup winner Lautaro Martinez continued his roaring start to the year as he set Inter Milan on their way to a 1-0 victory over AC Milan in the Derby della Madonnina on Sunday.

Martínez has been in fantastic form since helping Argentina win the World Cup in December and he netted his seventh goal in his last eight matches as Inter consolidated second spot in Serie A with a second win over their fierce rival in less than three weeks.

It was Martinez’s 12th league goal of the season, putting him four behind leading Serie A goalscorer Victor Osimhen, who scored another two on Sunday to help runaway leader Napoli win 3-0 at lowly Spezia.

Inter are 13 points behind Napoli and three points above third-place Roma. They are five points above Lazio, Atalanta and Milan, which has slipped to sixth after a woeful start to the year.

The Rossoneri’s winless run extended to seven matches. That streak included elimination from the Italian Cup and a 3-0 loss to Inter in the Super Cup.

Before the derby, Milan had also conceded an unprecedented nine goals in their past two Serie A matches.

With that perhaps playing in their minds, the Rossoneri defended deep from the start and rarely got out of their own half. Milan had to wait almost an hour for its first shot, and that was off target.

Inter almost took the lead in the 10th minute but Martínez headed just wide of the right upright.

Martinez did better in the 34th as he got away from Simon Kjær at the near post to get his head to a corner and it took a deflection off the Milan defender on the way in.

Romelu Lukaku thought he had scored his first league goal since August, late on, but the whistle had already gone for a foul by him on Malick Thiaw.

Martínez also had a goal ruled out for offside.

Osimhen appears to be firing Napoli to the Serie A title as the Nigeria forward netted for the fifth straight league match.

Spezia had defended well against Napoli’s stellar attack but gifted the visitors a penalty less than 10 seconds after the break when defender Arkadiusz Reca was trying to hold off Matteo Politano but didn’t anticipate that the bounce of the ball would take it onto his outstretched arm.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia converted the penalty, prompting the game to open up.

Osimhen had a goal ruled out in the 62nd for pulling back Mattia Caldara but he headed in his first in the 68th and doubled his tally five minutes later following another assist from Kvaratskhelia.

Spezia remained five points above the relegation zone.

Torino beat Udinese 1-0 to leapfrog their opponent into the Europa Conference League qualifying spot.

Torino are one point above Udinese and Bologna, who won 2-1 at Fiorentina for its first victory in Florence in 13 years.