Rodnina cites hacked Twitter account for racist Obama picture

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Rodnina cites hacked Twitter account for racist Obama picture
The Russian skater who just lit the Olympic flame tweeted this doctored, racist photo of the Obamas last September. http://t.co/kQhIDqXwki
Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak light the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, Pool)
Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev of the Soviet Union skate during their free dance performance on Sunday, February 17, 1980, in Lake Placid, N.Y., where they won a Pairs figure skating dance gold medal. (AP Photo)
Russian pair skaters Alexander Zaitsev and Irina Rodnina, the 1972 and 1976 Olympic pairs champions, go through their routine for the upcoming Lake Placid Olympics while practicing at Babson College ice arena in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Saturday, February 4, 1980. The Soviet Olympic figure skating team is training at the college before traveling north to Lake Placid, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Martell)
USSR Irina Rodnina gets gold, with partner Aleksandre Zaitsev. at left, East Germany?s Romy Kermer and Rolf Oesterreich, silver. At right, bronze medalists Manuela Gross and Uwe Kagolmann, from East Germany. All three pairs together. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)
USSR Irina Rodnina gets gold, with partner Aleksandre Zaitsev. at left, East Germany?s Romy Kermer and Rolf Oesterreich, silver. At right, bronze medalists Manuela Gross and Uwe Kagelmann, from East Germany. All three pairs together.. (AP Photo/Horst Faas))
Soviet gold medal figure skaters Aleksei Ulanov and Irina Rodnina in a winning Olympic performance, Feb. 8, 1972, Sapporo, Japan. (AP Photo/V. Budan)
GOETEBORG, SWEDEN - MARCH 7: Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev from the Soviet Union perform their program during the pairs' figure skating competition 07 March 1976 in G?teborg during the World Figure Skating championships. Rodnina and Zaitsev won the gold medal. (Photo credit should read LINDEBORG/AFP/Getty Images)
1971: SKATING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN LYON. WINNERS OF THE PAIRS FIGURE SKATING (L-R) LIUDMILA SMIRNOVA, ANDREI SURAIKIN (2ND), IRINA RODNINA & SERGEI ULANOV (1ST) AND JO JO STARBUCK & KENNETH SHELLEY, (3RD). Mandatory Credit: Allsport Hulton/Archive
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 1: Figure skaters Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev from the Soviet Union pose for a picture in March 1975 at a skating rink in Moscow. Irina Rodnina won three Olympic gold medals (1972 in Sapporo (Jpn) - paired with Alexei Ulanov; 1976 in Innsbruck (Aut) and 1980 in Lake Placid (Usa) - paired with Zaitsev). She also won 10 world championship titles. (Photo credit should read STAFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Soviet Olympic champion Irina Rodnina and Russian Olympic champion Maxim Marinin perform as they display the national team's new uniform for the 2010 Winter Olympics at a skating-rink in Red Square in Moscow, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks with World figure skating champions Irina Rodnina during the openning ceremony of the World Figure Skating Championships at Luzhniki Sports Palace in Moscow, Sunday, March 13, 2005. The last time this competition was held in Russia was in 1903. Russia has taken 24 of 48 world titles since 1993. (AP Photo/ ITAR-TASS/ Presidential Press Service)
Russia's Irina Rodnina arrives for the Laureus Sports Awards in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, Feb. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak run before lighting the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, Pool)
Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak run before lighting the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, Pool)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 07: Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretyak approach the the Olympic cauldron as they prepare to light it during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (Photo by Matt Slocum - Pool/Getty Images)
Irina Rodnina, left, receives the torch from Alina Kabaeva as Vladislav Tretiak looks at them, during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak run before lighting the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, Pool)
SINGAPORE - JULY 6: Former Olympic skating champion Irina Rodnina addresses the members during the Moscow 2012 presentation at the Raffle City Convention Centre on July 6, 2005 in Singapore. The 117th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote July 6 on whether London, Paris, New York, Madrid or Moscow will host the 2012 Olympic Games. (Photo by Andrew Wong/Getty Images)
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MOSCOW (AP) - She lit the Olympic cauldron. Now she's trying to put out a different kind of fire.

Three-time Olympic figure skating champion Irina Rodnina is responding after a doctored, racially charged photograph posted to her Twitter account in September went viral among Western users.

On Monday, Rodnina said her Twitter account had been hacked at the time she posted the photograph, which depicts President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama with their mouths full, staring at a banana that has been digitally inserted into the frame.

"I respect the Obama family and apologize for not clearly stating earlier that I don't support the tweeted photo or racism in any form," Rodnina wrote in English on Twitter. "My account was hacked and I should have shown better judgment in my initial response and handling of the event."

That was far different from Rodnina's previously flippant answer to Russian critics, who condemned her for the post in September. "Freedom of speech is freedom! Answer for your own hang-ups!" she responded.

On Saturday, Rodnina's Russian-American daughter Alyona Minkovski wrote on Twitter that her mother was "neither a racist nor a homophobe" but did not deny Rodnina had tweeted the photo, which she called "insensitive." International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams has defended the selection of Rodnina as torchbearer, saying she was chosen for "what she's done in sport," not her politics.

Sensitivity to racial issues is not widespread in Russia, where football fans occasionally toss bananas onto the field when African players are present. But Rodnina, who now lives primarily in Russia and has a seat in parliament as a member of Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, has spent many years living in the United States.

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