NPR logo Former Olympic Head Samaranch Has Died


Former Olympic Head Samaranch Has Died

Samaranch in September 2009. (Fabian Bimmer/AP) hide caption

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Samaranch in September 2009. (Fabian Bimmer/AP)

Former International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch has died at the age of 89, hospital authorities in Barcelona tell the Associated Press.

As NPR's Howard Berkes reports, Samaranch was president of the IOC "during an era of boycotts, near bankruptcy and scandal."

He led the IOC for 21 years before retiring in 2001, and is credited with including more nations in the Games and turning the IOC into a money-maker. But, Howard adds, "the mix of big money and new blood had a downside." And during Samaranch's tenure there was scandal over millions in dollars of payments and gifts to IOC members.

Samaranch also, Howard says, "neglected the growing problem of performance enhancing drugs. A belated but tough anti-doping program and major ethics reforms helped restore some credibility."

Samaranch's official IOC biography is here.

Update at 8:25 a.m. ET: There's also now a story from Howard posted here.