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Monday, February 10, 2014
Irina Rodnina regrets Obama tweet

ESPN.com news services

Legendary Russian figure skater Irina Rodnina, who sparked controversy last fall for her racist tweet about President Barack Obama, returned to Twitter on Monday to apologize and to say her account had been hacked.

Rodnina, who on Friday helped light the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Sochi Games on Friday, tweeted, "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."

A second tweet on Monday read: "My account was hacked and I should have shown better judgement in my initial response and handling of the event."

A tweet of Rodnina's from last year -- a photo of Obama doctored to include a banana -- drew new attention online at the time of the opening ceremony in Sochi. Rodnina didn't explain the tweet at the time and later took down the photo, but later defended it with another tweet, saying "Freedom of speech is freedom!"

Rodnina won three gold medals for the former USSR in the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Olympics. She was known for pioneering moves that made her the dominant female pairs skater of her era. She moved to the United States in 1990 to work as a coach and guided a Czech pair to a world title.

Today, Rodnina is a member of parliament as a member of Vladimir Putin's United Russia party and an outspoken critic of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.