Inaugural UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner has echoed chief executive Niels de Vos's sentiments and played down Britain's 2012 Olympic medal hopes.
Warner [left] and De Vos have tempered Britain's 2012 hopes
The British Olympic Association has set a target of finishing fourth in the table in London, but De Vos says 2012 is "not just about winning medals".
And Warner told BBC Five Live: "This is dangerous if it is a central target.
"I'd love it to happen but it is an awful long way from where we are now. I refuse to be hanged on that target."
Warner, who was named as the part-time non-executive chairman last month, appointed De Vos as Dave Moorcroft's successor last week.
And De Vos, currently chief executive of Sale Sharks rugby union club, says he plans a shake-up of the sport to ensure future international success.
There is a recognition that changes are necessary to ensure we capture the potential which is there
"At the moment our level of performance is well below what it has been in past years," De Vos told BBC Five Live.
"There is a recognition that changes are necessary to ensure we capture the potential which is there."
Former 110 metres hurdles world record holder Colin Jackson last week revealed his "shock and horror" at the state of British athletics.
He claimed it would "take a miracle" for any home-grown talent to win gold on the track in five years' time when London hosts the 2012 Olympics.
But De Vos insisted: "Some of the junior talent coming through does give us real cause for optimism.
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"What is important for UK Athletics is that we give every possible opportunity to those youngsters to come through and hopefully make the podium in 2012."
And Warner is in agreement, saying: "Five years is a short time in some regard, but a long time in others.
"The issue is to look at the young talent we have and see if, with five years of fertilisation, watering, help and nurturing, they can get fit to the start line.
"What gives me hope is that the average age of Olympic champions is coming down. It used to be the high-20s and now it's the mid-20s so, in 2012, a lot of our promising athletes will be approaching just the right age.
"But this is not a business whereby you say 'we've put so much financial backing in, we expect so much back'. It does not work like that."