Thursday, April 22, 2010

Juan Antonio Samaranch died at 89

Juan Antonio Samaranch, a reserved but shrewd deal-maker whose 21-year term as president of the International Olympic Committee was marked by both the unprecedented growth of the Games and its biggest ethics scandal, died Wednesday at a hospital. He was 89.

Samaranch, a courtly former diplomat who served as Spain's ambassador in Moscow, led the IOC from 1980 to 2001. He was considered one of the defining presidents of the IOC, building it into a powerful global organization and firmly establishing the Olympics as a world force.

The Samaranch era spanned political boycotts, the end of amateurism, the explosion of commercialization, a boom in the popularity of the games, the scourge of doping, and the Salt Lake crisis.

Samaranch was admitted to Quiron Hospital in Barcelona on Sunday after experiencing heart trouble. The hospital said he died at 1:25 p.m. local time.

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