The Soviet Union's sports system was stunned Friday by the abolition of Gossport, the government agency that funded and controlled generations of champion athletes.
The agency ceased operating by order of the State Council, the interim body that has been ruling the country since the failed August coup.
"Without Gossport, Soviet sports will simply disintegrate," said Leonid Drachevsky, the agency's first deputy chairman.
The demise of Gossport cast doubt on the Soviet Union's chances in next year's Olympics. The order cut off funding to Olympic training camps and eliminated salaries for 25,000 athletes and 1,200 coaches.
The Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which became independent in September, will field individual Olympic teams, but the remaining 12 Soviet republics had agreed last month to field a single Soviet team.