Sports Illustrated reports:
Former Russian figure skater Irina Rodnina was given the honor of lighting the Olympic flame at Sochi 2014′s Opening Ceremony on Friday, but she has started receiving attention for a racist photograph she tweeted last September. Rodnina tweeted a doctored photo of President Barack Obama and his wife. When asked about it at the time, she said there was nothing wrong with the photo and that it was sent to her by American friends.
The Guardian reported on the tweet when it was sent:
Irina Rodnina, an MP from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party and a triple Olympic champion figure-skater, posted the picture on her personal Twitter account. The image features Obama chewing, while a hand in the foreground waves a banana at him. Rodnina insisted that there was nothing wrong with the photograph, and said she had been sent it by friends in America. “Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and you should answer for your own hang-ups,” she wrote. The US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, wrote on Twitter that Rodnina was guilty of “outrageous behaviour, which only brings shame to her parliament and country”. A spokesperson for the US embassy quoted Thomas Jefferson in response to the tweet: “Bigotry is the disease of ignorance.”
The Guardian notes that Russian soccer fans often wave bananas at visiting black teams. Rodnina, you will be shocked to learn, is a staunch supporter of Vladimir Putin.