“It was just happiness for our team,” says Ksenia Ryzhova, explaining the kiss she shared with a 4×400-metre relay team member after they claimed gold in the event at the World Athletics Championships in Russia, The Guardian reports.
The kiss between Ryzhova and Yulia Guschina sparked media speculation over whether the action was done in protest against their country’s anti-gay laws or was just a typical gesture of congratulations and friendship.
In refuting reports that the kiss was a protest action, Ryzhova also told The Guardian that “if people want to write all sorts of dirt about us, they should at least know that Yulia and I are both married.”
Ryzhova declined to say what her position on queer rights is, the report says.
Over the past week, the track and field triumphs at the world championships have competed with the controversy over Russia’s anti-gay laws for headlines as some athletes have chosen to make statements, whether verbal or through gestures, in support of gays and lesbians.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who has previously told the international community to “calm down” about his country’s anti-gay laws, said that the law banning promotion of nontraditional sexual relations doesn’t violate any rights and that concerns that it would infringe upon athletes’ and spectators’ freedoms are "overblown," according to the state R-Sport news agency.