British Olympic chiefs have played down predictions they could overhaul Australia to finish as the fourth-best nation in Beijing.

But the British Olympic Association are forecasting a "significant improvement" in their medal haul at Beijing compared to their 10th place in the Athens table with nine gold medals.

Some predictions have Britain doubling their gold medal tally and finishing fourth in Beijing, but funding body UK Sport's target is 10 to 12 golds and 35 medals, and an eighth place finish in the table.

The BOA are refusing to set a specific target for these Games, saying they are concentrating on making the fourth place in the table four years down the line at London 2012.

BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said at the British team's pre-Games launch in Beijing: "We are confident we will move forward from 10th but it would be unwise to speculate how close we will get to fourth. At Athens, the combined margin of five British golds being silver medals was only 0.545 seconds, that shows how close it can be."

UK Sport, the body that distributes National Lottery funding to Olympic sports, are keeping their target of 35 British medals at Beijing.

A spokesman said: "We do have a stretch target' of 41 medals that we would hope to achieve if everything goes right and that also remains the same."

Meanwhile, Moynihan insisted there is no chance of the BOA watering down their lifetime Olympics ban on drugs cheats following the Games.

The organisation are reviewing the rule following the Dwain Chambers court challenge and there was a possibility of falling in line with the IOC's new rule where anyone banned for six months or more misses the next Olympics after their suspension finishes.

But Moynihan said the only likely change would be to the BOA's appeals procedure. He said: "The rest of the world is looking at what we do and a number are considering having similar eligibility rules.

"There is a huge challenge for sport to make sure we have competition between athletes and not between chemist laboratories."