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Russian female sprinters say kisses were not protest over anti-gay laws

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Aug. 17, 2013: Gold medallists team Russia kiss and celebrate at the women's 4x400 metres relay victory ceremony during the IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow. From left: Yulia Gushchina, Kseniya Ryzhova, Tatyana Firova and Antonina Krivoshapka. (Reuters)

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.