Russian & Ukrainian Olympic medalists whose hug caused diplomatic drama pose for snap again... as husband warns against backlash

The husband of Russia's Olympic high jump champion has warned people not to leave more abuse for her after she was pictured at close quarters with one of her main rivals at the Games – a Ukrainian – again.

Gold medalist Maria Lasitskene and bronze winner Yaroslava Mahuchikh earned a mixed reaction after the army athletes were pictured warmly embracing each other in Tokyo, with some of the angrier online responses even accusing them of being traitors.

Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister announced that Mahuchikh would be summoned to explain her actions in the conext of what they described as the ongoing "Russian-Ukrainian war", and a representative of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs hit back at Mahuchikh's critics in her homeland, accusing them of "persecuting" the star and being "the real enemies of Ukraine".

Now a fellow high jumper, former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Eleanor Patterson, has shared a snap of the pair smiling in close proximity again at the Diamond League final in Zurich, where Lasitskene edged out Mahuchikh to earn the $30,000 first prize.

"It was phenomenal to watch these women," said Patterson, writing alongside the picture which shows an arm around Mahuchikh's shoulder from the direction of Lasitskene.

"It wasn’t my day with a slight niggle. However, it’s the end of my season and time to relax for a moment."

Lasitskene showed her approval by responding with a pair of emojis, while her husband, Vladas Lasickas, was reportedly keen to ward off any more controversy and clarify what viewers were seeing.

Lasickas insisted that the hand belonged to Aussie athlete Nicola McDermott, who was standing behind them, and claimed that the one-off picture had been taken to commemorate the end of the career of Polish athlete Kamila Litsvinko, who stood at the front of the group.

"The hand of Maria, hugging Yaroslava, is the hand of Nicola," Lasickas is quoted to have replied by Tribuna. "Do not light up garbage from nothing."

The row over Lasitskene and Mahuchikh's rejoicing hug at the Games has continued to have repercussions more than a month after the incident.

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Last week, Ukrainian sprinter Ihor Tsvietov caused a storm by appearing to snub the chance to join Russian champion Dmitry Safronov and his bronze-winning compatriot, Artyom Kalashyan, on the same part of their podium at the Paralympics.

Tsvietov said the move was an act of respect towards his rivals, although photos that have since emerged of him posing next to them, taken at an event earlier this year, have heightened suspicions that he had been told to avoid pictures similar to the ones portraying Lasitskene and Mahuchikh, or was keen to avoid any controversies.

Ukrainian karate bronze medalist Stanislav Horuna backed Mahuchikh, arguing that sport is beyond politics, and the mayor of Mahuchikh's home city of Dnipro also offered the 19-year-old his emphatic support.

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