Russian Figure Skater Apologizes for Obama Tweet

By Amanda Borges
Assistant Digital Editor

Irina Rodnina is a 10-time figure skating world champion and a triple Olympic gold medallist.

Last September, she was in the headlines for a doctored image that appeared on her personal Twitter account. It showed Barack and Michelle Obama staring at someone who was waving a banana.

The US ambassador to Moscow accused Ms Rodnina of “outrageous behavior.”

At the time she rejected all the criticism, tweeting: “Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and you should answer for your own hang-ups. People react to things in different ways. To me… a banana doesn’t arouse any political or any other kind of emotions. ”

Irina RodninaFormer Olympic figure skating champion

The Olympic flame lighting ceremony in Sochi re-ignited the controversy, with US media speculating that her inclusion was a deliberate dig at the White House.

Now, five months after the picture appeared, Irina Rodnina has said she is sorry.

Here is her tweet apologizing for what she posted:

In a second message she explained her “account was hacked and I should have shown better judgement in my initial response and handling of the event”.

“I wrote those tweets yesterday because I realized that many Americans were upset by this,” she told BBC News.

“People react to things in different ways. To me, and I’m just a normal person, a banana doesn’t arouse any political or any other kind of emotions,” she said.

“How many times have photographers posted rather unflattering images of famous people, including presidents?

“That kind of thing happens. So, in fact, what’s happening around Sochi is an information war.”

In Russia there have been cases of black athletes being taunted with bananas, an indication of the level of racism here.

For more on this story visit: Steve Rosenberg, BBC News

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