Two female Russian athletes, who briefly locked lips on the winner’s podium after winning the 4 x 400 meter relay at the World Athletics Championship in Moscow on Saturday, touched off a firestorm of Internet chatter this week about whether the pair was protesting anti-gay propaganda laws.
The athletes, Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova, are now saying their smooches were not a protest, reports The Associated Press on Aug. 20.
Kseniya Ryzhova, one of the 4 x 400-meter relay winners, responded and said the allegations are completely unfounded.
“The storm of emotions going through us was incredible. And if we, accidentally, while congratulating each other, touched lips, excuse me. We think the whole fuss is more of a sick fantasy not grounded in anything,” Ryzhova said.
The kiss appeared to be an attempt at protesting a controversial Russian law passed in June in preparation of the 2014 Olympics, banning gay and lesbian “propaganda.” The recent law enacts a ban on gay rights activism.
On Thursday of last week, another Russian athlete made headlines over the law. Pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva spoke out against allowing the promotion of gay rights.