With the Socchi Winter Olympics less than six months away, the host country's stance on gay rights continues to create controversy.
Two Russian sprinters' kiss on the medal stand has left many wondering if it was a protest against their country's anti-gay propaganda law or just a show of affection.
Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova shared the smooch following their victory in the 4x400 meter relay at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow Sunday.
Sky News reports a source tells them the kiss was not a political statement though some have interpreted it as such.
New Russian legislation passed in June made it illegal to talk about gay issues around minors. Displaying symbols like a rainbow flag in public could lead to accusations of propagandizing.
Athletes and sporting officials continue weighing in on the issue with opposing viewpoints.
Last week, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva criticized athletes who painted their fingernails the colors of the rainbow in support of gays and lesbians.
"If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people," Isinbayeva said, later backing down from those comments against gays, claiming she may have been misunderstood.
American Nick Symmonds fired back after winning a silver medal in the 800 meters.
"I want to say to Yelena, `You understand a very large portion of your citizens here are gay and lesbian people. They are standard people, too. They were created this way. For you to tell them that they're not normal and standard, that's what we're taking an issue with.' That's why we have to continue to demonstrate and to speak out against the ignorance that she's showing," he said.
Symmonds called what he has seen in Russia "atrocities."
The county's sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, said Sunday that the law will not infringe on the Olympics.
Mutko alleged that the Western media has given the issue more attention and called the law "an invented problem."
"We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations," Mutko said.
The winter games will be held in Socchi from Feb. 7-23.