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