"Those responsible should take the brave decision and sign a letter [of resignation]. If they can't, we will help them," President Dmitry Medvedev said in a televised interview Monday, addressing the sports bureaucrats and Russian Olympic officials that most Russians deem to be guilty for the collapse of their once proud athletic machine.
But the poor showing of Russia's first fully post-Soviet generation of athletes in Vancouver, and the challenge of retraining them to win on their home turf in four years time, may be the least of the Kremlin's worries.
The still-powerful former President Vladimir Putin pulled out all the stops to win the 2014 Winter Games for Sochi, but preparation efforts have now become embroiled in allegations of corruption, poor planning, environmental disaster, and accusations that local authorities are suppressing media coverage of Olympic snags.
"It would be very hard to find a place in Russia that has no snow in the wintertime, but that's just what Putin did," says Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, Sochi native and co-author of a critical report on the Olympic preparations around Sochi.