Two Russian athletes who kissed on the podium after winning gold at the Moscow World Athletics Championships, have strongly denied claims that they did it as a protest against anti-gay laws passed in the country in June.
Ryzhova and Firova then kissed each other on the lips while on the winner’s podium. While more accepted as a sign of friendship in Russia than in other parts of the world, the gesture has been interpreted as a protest against anti-LGBT legislation in Russia due to the current frenzy around the issue
Speaking to the Guardian on Monday, Ryzhova strongly refuted reports that the two kissed in protest against the anti-gay laws. She said: “It was just happiness for our team.”
“If people want to write all sorts of dirt about us, they should at least know that Yulia and I are both married,” she continued.
The act of same-sex kissing between platonic partners is not commonplace in Russia.
She was later told by the International Association of Athletics Federations that she may be in violation of their code, and changed her nails to red “for love”.
On Friday, Russia’s pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva said comments she made about Ms Green-Tregaro, whom she said was being “disrespectful to our country”, were misunderstood.
Ms Isinbayeva, an ambassador for next year’s Winter Olympics to be staged in Sochi, said: ”It’s disrespectful to our country, disrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians.
“Maybe we are different than European people and people from different lands. We have our law which everyone has to respect. When we go to different countries, we try to follow their rules. We are not trying to set our rules over there. We are just trying to be respectful.
“We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys… it comes from the history.”
After calls were made for her to be stripped of her ambassadorship she claimed she had been misunderstood, but did not apologise for the comments.
Also at Moscow, US track and field star Nick Symmonds, who earlier this week dedicated a silver medal to gay and lesbian people, spoke out against Russian anti-gay laws, saying they have started the “defining civil rights movement of our time”.
President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.