Russian female runners: Kisses not a protest

August 20, 2013 - 7:36 AM
Russia Athletics Worlds

From left, Russia's Tatyana Firova, Russia's Yulia Gushchina, Russia's Kseniya Ryzhova, and Russia's Antonina Krivoshapka pose on the podium with their gold medals during the ceremony for the women's 4x400-meter relay at the World Athletics Championships in the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW (AP) — Quick kisses exchanged by four Russian female sprinters, exuberant after winning a relay race at the world championships in Moscow, have set off a flurry of speculation that they were protesting Russia's new controversial law against gays.

But two of the athletes, who appeared to brush lips while kissing each other on the cheek, insisted Tuesday that was not the case.

Kseniya Ryzhova, one of the 4 x 400-meter relay winners, said: "The storm of emotions going through us was incredible. 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 one another on the cheek when celebrating a happy occasion or even just in greeting.