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Juan Antonio Samaranch, Former IOC President, In 'Very Serious' Condition At Barcelona Hospital

PAUL LOGOTHETIS   04/20/10 04:09 PM ET   AP

Juan Antonio Samaranch

MADRID — Former International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch was in "very serious" condition Tuesday in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Barcelona.

The 89-year-old Spaniard was admitted after experiencing heart trouble, and about 20 minutes later went into shock, Quiron Hospital chief of internal medicine Rafael Esteban said during a news conference. Samaranch was sedated and put on a respirator, although his prognosis is poor.

"We cannot be optimistic," Esteban said.

Samaranch had been to a gym to exercise on Sunday, Esteban said, and the heart trouble was unexpected, even though Samaranch has dealt with various health problems for years.

The head of the IOC from 1980-2001, Samaranch spent 11 days in a Swiss hospital in 2001 with "extreme fatigue" after returning from an IOC session in Moscow, where Jacques Rogge was elected as his successor.

Samaranch was also hospitalized shortly afterward in Barcelona for what was described as high blood pressure. He has received regular dialysis treatment for kidney trouble.

Samaranch spent two days in a hospital in Madrid in 2007 after a dizzy spell, and underwent hospital checks in Monaco in October after feeling ill at a sports conference.

The former Spanish diplomat retired after 21 years as the second-longest serving president in the history of the IOC. His era was marked by political boycotts, the end of amateurism and the advent of professionalism, the explosion of commercialization, a boom in growth and popularity of the games, the scourge of doping and the Salt Lake City corruption scandal.

Only Pierre de Coubertin, the French baron who founded the modern Olympics, was in office longer, serving for 29 years (1896-1925). American Avery Brundage served for 20 years (1952-72).

Samaranch considered stepping down after the 1992 Olympics in his home city of Barcelona and again after the centennial games in Atlanta in 1996. Each time, encouraged by his supporters, he chose to continue. Twice, he had the age limit changed to allow him to stay on.

Even in retirement, Samaranch has remained active in Olympic circles and tried to help Madrid secure the 2012 and 2016 Games. Madrid finished third behind winner London and Paris in the vote for the 2012 Olympics, and second to Rio de Janeiro for 2016.

As honorary IOC president for life, Samaranch has chaired the board of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne and regularly attends IOC meetings around the world.

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Associated Press writer Jorge Sainz contributed to this report.

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Filed by Craig Kanalley  |