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Rogge leaves IOC in sturdy shape after 12 years in charge

Published September 3, 2013 10:03 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Buenos aires, Argentina • Twelve years after taking over an IOC recovering from its worst ethics scandal, Jacques Rogge is leaving with the Olympic body in much sturdier shape but facing serious challenges.

The 71-year-old Belgian steps down as president next Tuesday after steering the International Olympic Committee through a period of relative stability that spanned three Summer Olympics and three Winter Games.

Rogge, an orthopedic surgeon who competed in three Olympics in sailing, is completing his term with a reputation for bringing a steady hand to the often turbulent world of Olympic politics.

He took a hard line against doping and ethics violations, created the Youth Olympics, oversaw a growth in IOC finances during a time of global economic crisis and made peace with the U.S. Olympic Committee after years of bitter squabbling over revenues.

Under Rogge's watch, the IOC has also taken the Olympics to new places — including awarding the 2016 event to Rio de Janeiro for the first games in South America.

"I hope that people, with time, will consider that I did a good job for the IOC," Rogge, in an interview with The Associated Press, said with typical understatement. "That's what you legitimately want to be remembered for."

IOC members meeting in Buenos Aires over the next week will elect Rogge's successor among six candidates by secret ballot Sept. 10. The new president will face tough issues, including the backlash over anti-gay legislation in Russia before February's Winter Games in Sochi and concern over construction delays in Rio.

Rogge was elected the IOC's eighth president in Moscow in 2001, succeeding Juan Antonio Samaranch, who ran the committee with an authoritarian style for 21 years. Rogge took office following the Salt Lake City scandal, in which 10 IOC members resigned or were expelled for receiving scholarships, payments and gifts during its winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

Rogge, who enjoyed a "Mr. Clean" reputation, broke with the tainted and elitist image of the IOC, choosing to stay in the athletes village as much as possible during the six games that he oversaw.

"He was absolutely the right person at the right time," senior Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heiberg said. "We had a lot of turmoil. We had to get out of that. We had to get another image. He has brought stability to the organization."