Russian runners kiss following race, sparking anti-gay propaganda law protest rumours

Gold medalists from Russia kiss at the women's 4x400 metres relay victory ceremony during the IAAF...

Gold medalists from Russia kiss at the women's 4x400 metres relay victory ceremony during the IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow August 17, 2013. (REUTERS/Grigory Dukor)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:01 PM ET

Some of Russia’s own athletes appear to be giving their country’s anti-gay propaganda law the kiss-off.

After winning gold in the women’s 4x400-metre relay at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russian racers Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova kissed each other on the lips in front of spectators.

When the two stood on the podium with teammates Yulia Gushchina and Antonina Krivoshapka shortly afterward, all four women kissed each other.

None of the athletes have released a statement regarding either incident, but speculation has ramped up that the golden smooches were an act of protest against Russia’s controversial law banning public displays advocating gay rights.

The law, passed in June, had already overshadowed the world championships and run-up to the Sochi Olympics.

A pair of Swedish athletes – high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro and sprinter Moa Hjelmer – painted their fingernails in rainbow colours last week to show solidarity with the gay community.

That led to Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva to publicly criticize the pair, saying their actions were “disrespectful to our country, disrespectful to our citizens because we are Russians.”

Isinbayeva added: “We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys ... it comes from the history.”

She later claimed she was misunderstood and that she doesn't discriminate against gays and lesbians.

American 800m silver medallist Nick Symmonds spoke out against the law before and during the world championships.

On Friday, Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg and Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman, both of whom are sure bets play for Sweden’s Olympic men’s hockey team in Sochi, spoke out against the law.

“Awful, just awful,” Zetterberg told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet as translated by TheScore.com.

“I think everyone should be able to be themselves. It’s unbelievable that it can be this way in this time, especially in a big country like Russia.”

Added Hedman: “That's completely wrong, we’re all humans. No one should have a say in what way you’re sexually oriented.”

The International Olympic Committee called on Russia last week for clarification on how the law will be applied and effect the Sochi Olympics.


WATCH: RUSSIAN SPRINTERS KISS ON PODIUM


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