Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova were part of a Russian 4×400 meter relay team that won the gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, and after the race Saturday, the two shared a kiss on the medal podium.
The kiss is being viewed as the latest symbol of protest against Russia’s recently enacted anti-gay laws that have some calling for a boycott of next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
American runner Nick Symmonds dedicated his silver medal in the 800 meters to his gay and lesbian friends back home, and Swedish high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro reportedly had to repaint her nails after painting them in multiple colors as a sign of support for gay rights.
However, with respect to this latest apparent act of defiance, a Sky News report states that "sources in the Russian camp claimed Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova … were just exchanging a congratulatory kiss and there was no political message involved."
It’s not for us to definitively say what message Firova, 31, and Ryzhova, 26, did or didn’t intend to convey when they puckered up on the podium. But given the current climate in their native country, it sure seems like an interesting time for a celebratory smooch.