Will Putin's rumored flame be the one to light Olympic torch?

Will Vladimir Putin's rumored girlfriend Alina Kabaeva be the one to light the Olympic torch in Sochi?

Former Olympic champion Alina Kabaeva is rumored to be dating Russian President Vladimir Putin along with being in the running to light the Olympic torch.

TATYANA MAKEYEVA / AFP

Maybe it takes a flame to know -- and light -- one?

Speculation has been running wild that Russian President Vladimir Putin's alleged girlfriend -- 2004 Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion Alina Kabaeva -- may be selected to light the Olympic Torch at the opening ceremonies in Sochi.

Alina Kabaeva performs with clubs in the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around final during the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She won the event.

KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP

The lighting is traditionally performed by a prominent person from the host country, so Kabaeva would certainly qualify on her own merits. And rumors of her relationship with Putin -- who has been single since his divorce last year -- have never been officially confirmed.

But in the wake of all the other issues Russia is facing as Olympic host -- from its stance on gay rights and Sochi's extermination of stray dogs to kidnapping threats, questionable hotel conditions and even pillow shortages -- does the country's president really need anything more on his plate?

Putin, for his part, dismissed the conjecture about Kabaeva possibly lighting the torch.

"I'm aware of this (the speculation), I was told of this by (Kremlin spokesman) Dmitry Peskov. These are the usual red herrings,'' News.com.au quotes him as saying while he toured a nature reserve near Sochi. "We have many outstanding sportspeople who are significant and known in the whole world, and I am not going to interfere in this process,'' he said in comments broadcast on state television.

Well that's a relief, right?