Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro was forced to paint over her rainbow fingernails after being told it violated track and field rules on making a political statement. Green Tregaro instead painted them red "for love," she said at the world track and field championships in Moscow.
"It was harder to not paint them in the rainbow than it was to choose to paint them," Green Tregaro said Saturday. "I'm surprised by the big reactions, but I'm happy about the big reaction because it's mostly been very positive."
Green Tregaro painted her nails in solidarity with LGBT people and against new anti-gay laws in Russia. She was joined by a Swedish runner, who also painted her nails earlier in the week. But Swedish track officials on Saturday told the high jumper that the IAAF, the sport's governing body, said the rainbow nails were a violation of the code of conduct.
The rainbow pattern Thursday breached IAAF regulations, Swedish athletics general secretary Anders Albertsson said.
"We have been informally approached by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) saying that this is by definition, a breach of the regulations," Albertsson told reporters, according to Reuters. "The code of conduct clearly states the rules do not allow any commercial or political statements during the competition."
Green Tregaro said the Swedish track federation stood with her, but that she did not want to do anything to get them in trouble with the IAAF. Plus, she risked sanctions and I don't blame her for repainting her nails. She had already made a statement that got international attention and there was no need to put her competition at risk. And choosing red for love was an affirming statement.
This incident shows what any athlete at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi will have to face when considering how to protest Russia's treatment of its LGBT citizens.
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