Aug 18, 2013, 10:39 PM EDT
A photo of two members of the Russian women’s 4×400-meter relay team kissing after receiving their gold medals made headlines on the final day of the World Track and Field Championships.
The kiss was looked at by some as a protest to Russia’s law banning the “propagandizing” of “nontraditional sexual relations toward minors.”
Unidentified Russian track team sources denied that it was, according to Sky News.
Sources in the Russian camp claimed Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova – who had just won gold in the 4×400 metres relay – were just exchanging a congratulatory kiss and there was no political message involved.
Firova and Ryzhova’s kiss on the podium wasn’t their first that day. They also kissed on the track after the victory, as shown in the photo on the right.
It also wasn’t the only kiss by Russians on the podium. Pretty much the entire four-woman team exchanged pecks, as you can see in this video.
Other athletes made definitive statements about the Russian law at the World Championships, from American Nick Symmonds dedicating his silver medal in the 800 meters to his gay and lesbian friends to Russia’s most famous track and field star, Yelena Isinbayeva, who was reported making comments supporting the law in English. A day later, she said her comments were misunderstood in translation.
Then there are the two Swedish athletes who painted their nails in rainbow colors. Sweden was told by the IAAF, track and field’s international governing body, that it broke rules as a “political statement.” The athlete who competed after the IAAF response, high jumper Emma Green Tregaro, switched her nails to red Saturday.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who has said the law will be enforced at the Sochi Olympics in February, said Sunday the law won’t infringe on the private lives of those at the Olympics.
“I can say once again that the freedoms of Russian and foreign athletes and guests who come to Sochi will be absolutely protected,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “In my view, Western media, media outside Russia, give more attention to this than we do in Russia.
“We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations,” he said, according to the AP.
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