British Olympic Association officials fear a poor medal return at the London Games in 2012 because of the government's lack of financial backing.
In a pre-budget report on Monday, chancellor Gordon Brown failed to mention funding for elite athletes.
With five months passed since London were awarded the Games, BOA chief executive Simon Clegg is a worried man.
"We're now being forced into a race with one hand tied behind our back," said a disappointed Clegg.
"The sole measurement of the Games will not be on how efficient the organising committee is, not how beautifully architectured the design of the stadiums are.
"It will be decided on how many British athletes stand on the podium and collect medals.
"We need to be in the market place now looking for the world's finest coaches and putting in place the necessary performance plans to contribute to fourth place in the table.
"The Chancellor has indicated a whole range of other issues in the pre-budget report and we are extremely disappointed that here was no announcement regarding high-performance sport."
UK Sport chair Sue Campbell was also shocked at the report, adding: "We're disappointed because we want the best chance of success for our athletes.
"We had hoped for some news, but while there was no specific announcement today about additional financial plans to support Team GB's ambitions for London 2012, it by no means closes the door on future possibilities."