Juan Antonio Samaranch Biography

president of the International Olympic Committee
Born: 7/17/1920
Died: 4/21/2010 (Barcelona, Spain)
Best Known as: president of the International Olympic Committee

Juan Antonio Samaranch, the Marquis de Samaranch, was a businessman, an elected public official, and served as Spanish ambassador to the Soviet Union (1977-80). In 1954, he joined the Spanish Olympic committee, became a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1966, and was IOC president from 1980 to 2001. During his tenure, the commercial profitability of the Olympics increased enormously, largely due to the television revenues, corporate sponsorships, and licensing agreements he helped to arrange. He oversaw such reforms as the admission of professional athletes and the encouragement of women's participation in all games, and he fought sports apartheid. His presidency was not without controversy, however, Under his leadership, several athletes admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs and there were allegations of corruption among IOC members in the selection of host cities.