Irina Rodnina, Former Russian Skater Who Lit Olympic Flame, Tweeted Racist Obama Photo

The Former Russian Olympian Who Lit The Olympic Flame Tweeted Racist Obama Photo

The extravagant Sochi Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony culminated with the lighting of the Olympic flame by two of Russia's famous Olympians, Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak.

Rodnina, a gold medal winning figure skater, is currently a Member of Parliament in Russian President Vladmir Putin's United Russia party.

As The Guardian reported last year, Rodnina garnered international attention after tweeting a doctored photo of U.S. President Barack Obama that sparked outrage as some interpreted the doctored photo to be racist.

The tweet, which has since been deleted from her account, showed Obama chewing. A hand holding a banana had been superimposed in the foreground.

ABC reporter Terry Moran posted a photo of the deleted tweet on the day of the Opening Ceremony.

As Business Insider notes, Rodnina's tweet was sent at a time of tension between the U.S. and Russia over military intervention in Syria.

The photo drew the ire of the outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who criticized Rodnina's act as "outrageous behaviour, which only brings shame to her parliament and country" on Twitter. Rodnina held that there was nothing wrong with the tweet and brushed off allegations of racism, according to The Guardian.

Yahoo points out that Vladislav Tretiak, Rodnina's partner in lighting the flame and also a member of the United Russia, voted in 2012 for a Russian law that would ban some U.S. citizens from entering the country as well as prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by Americans.

Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise tweeted that Olympics organizers were questioned on their choice of Rodnina for the Opening Ceremony, but did not indicate that the doctored photo had factored into their selection.

Before You Go

2014 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

PHOTOS: Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony

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