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Female Russian runners' kiss sparks anti-gay law debate

If you haven't been following the controversy coming out of Russia, the country recently passed an anti-gay law outlawing displays of homosexual behavior.

Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova kiss on the podium after winning the 4x400-meter gold. Credit: Getty Images Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova kiss on the podium after winning the 4x400-meter gold.
Credit: Getty Images

As far as political statements in sports go, a lesbian kiss on the gold medal stand is pretty blatant.

If you haven't been following the pre-Olympic controversy coming out of Russia, the country recently passed an anti-gay law outlawing public displays of homosexual behavior. The justification is "to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations," according to Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko. Mutko also said this was "an invented problem."

Yep, no big deal, says Russia. Nothing at all wrong with comparing two men holding hands to drug use.

Well, at this week's World Track and Field Championships in Moscow, half of the gold-medal winning 4x400-meter relay team, Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova, kissed on the podium.

After the kiss, Russian sources claimed the kiss was simply a celebration and not a political statement.

Hmm, I know they do things a little differently in Europe, but that certainly looked like more than just a congratulations. We have no idea if the two are in a relationship or just really good friends.

Ryzhova and Firova have kept quiet in the wake of the debate-sparking kiss, so we are left to wonder what it meant exactly.

With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics approaching, obviously the law has sparked outrage among the world sports community. U.S. runner Nick Symmonds had some strong words earlier this week.

"Whether you're gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights," Symmonds told R-Sport after dedicating his 800-meter silver medal to his gay and lesbian friends. "If there's anything I can do to champion the cause and further it I will, shy of getting arrested."

Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro painted her nails in rainbow nail polish this week as well. She was forced to change the color, however, after her federation told her to "respect the rules." Weak.

Here's to hoping a bunch of athletes humiliate Russia for its homophobic law come the Sochi games.

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports. Come on Vladimir Putin, you're practically a gay sex symbol!

 
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