About $50 million of taxpayers' money is being wasted on staff at an Australian Institute of Sport which has no athletes, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) says.
The AOC is at loggerheads with the Australian Sports Commission, which operates the institute, fearing top-five Olympic medal targets at this year's Rio Games won't be met.
The AOC says there is no point in having more than 500 staff at the institute but no athletes there, believing the annual wage cost of between $40-$50m should go directly to athletes.
"The concern is the AIS is no longer a centre of excellence and it's no longer the Olympic breeding ground that it once was," AOC media director Mike Tancred told AAP on Wednesday.
"Something has to happen. Something has to change. We just don't think the model is working."
Australian Sports Commission chief executive Simon Hollingsworth said the criticism was off the mark.
"It doesn't reflect the business of the sports commission and doesn't accurately reflect what is happening on the ground," Hollingsworth told AAP on Wednesday.
Hollingsworth stressed he didn't want to be seen as in a battle with the AOC, as both bodies wanted Australian athletes to be world-best.
He said despite the institute's scholarship-based programs being disbanded, it was directly supporting more than 800 athletes - more than under the old model.
The commission altered the institute's operating model after the 2012 London Olympics, where Australia returned its lowest gold medal haul in two decades.
Scholarship-based programs was scrapped in favour of the ASC giving sporting bodies extra funding in exchange for taking responsibility for their own high performance programs.
Hollingsworth said the reforms, outlined in 'Australia's Winning Edge 2012-2022' strategy, were much-needed.
"The observation that we would have made in 2011-12 is that the high performance system had become very complacent and lacking in accountability - and I would include in that, by the way, the AOC," he said.
The AOC initially supported the Winning Edge reforms but now said methods of rating and funding different sports were harming smaller sports.
"I know the AOC has been quite vocal in some of their criticism saying it's disadvantaged smaller sports," Hollingsworth said.
"The numbers don't support that. In fact, 23 of the 30 Olympic sports have had a funding increase over the Rio cycle."
Hollingsworth said the commission didn't just cater for elite sports.
"For example, included in our staffing profile is more than 100 people who work on delivering participation programs in the nationwide sporting schools program," he said.
"There is significant activity that is occurring on a daily and weekly basis on the (institute) campus."
There were 45,000 high performance-related bed nights at the campus last year, 10 per cent more than in 2014.
And Hollingsworth said "without scholarship holders per se in the traditional sense, the campus is much more open to teams," citing the national women's soccer and women's basketball teams as examples.