Russian who lit Olympic cauldron tweeted racist Obama photo

Former hockey player Vladislav Tretiak (back) and figure skater Irina Rodnina light the Olympic...

Former hockey player Vladislav Tretiak (back) and figure skater Irina Rodnina light the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014. (MATT SLOCUM/Reuters/Pool)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:56 PM ET

That lady, the one lighting the Olympic cauldron alongside Russian hockey legend Vladislav Tretiak?

Yeah, her recent biography is pretty interesting.

Irina Rodnina, a Putin-linked politician and former Olympic figure skating champion, lit the flame Friday and quickly ignited a firestorm linked to an apparently racist months-old tweet.

It was September when Rodnina created controversy by tweeting out a picture of U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle with a hand holding a banana superimposed in the foreground.

While it drew fire then, the controversy erupted anew Friday once her identity as one of the two marquee cauldron-lighters of the Sochi Games was revealed.

Though she deleted the tweet, Rodnina never publicly apologized for what the U.S. ambassador to Russia called “outrageous behaviour.”

Punished by Putin, her political master? No way. She was rewarded, just a few months later, with a place in the spotlight at the biggest sports event in modern Russian history.

A screencap of the tweet in question. (Deadspin)


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