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Russian athlete: Reaction to kiss photograph a 'sick fantasy'

August 20, 2013|By David Wharton
  • Russian sprinters Kseniya Ryzhova and Yulia Guashcina share a kiss on the victory stand after their team won the 400-meter relay at the track and field world championships in Moscow over the weekend.
Russian sprinters Kseniya Ryzhova and Yulia Guashcina share a kiss on the… (Paul Gilham / Getty Images )

Three days after a photograph of two Russian athletes kissing on the medal stand made international news, the women insisted they were not protesting their country's anti-gay legislation.

The picture showed sprinters Kseniya Ryzhova and Yulia Gushchina giving each other a peck after their team had won the 400-meter relay at the track and field world championships in Moscow.

"Yesterday I got calls from probably 20 different media outlets and instead of congratulating us for the gold medal, they decided to insult me and Yulia and the entire federation,” Ryzhova said, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

She added: "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."

Russian women often kiss on the cheek when greeting each other or celebrating. That brush of the lips, however, ignited speculation.

Russia has received international criticism for legislation that bans "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations," which could include discussing gay rights around children or showing support for gay rights with public displays such as parades.

There has been concern about whether the law will be enforced on international athletes participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

At the track world championships, Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro painted her fingernails in rainbow colors to support gay rights. Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva responded with seemingly anti-gay remarks but later said she had been misunderstood.

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