Written by By Byby Zainulbhai Dayal, CNN
Gerald Ancona, a former head of World Athletics, has died at the age of 88.
Ancona was among the most influential figures in athletics over the course of his career. As secretary general of the international federation, he oversaw the career of Muhammad Ali and the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.
Muhammad Ali in 1975 Credit: POOL/Patrick Smith/Getty Images
During his long tenure, he was responsible for extensive reforms of the governing body, introducing new initiatives like ‘competition by paid amateurism.’ He served as the head of world athletics for 11 years.
The CAS announced that Ancona died on Saturday in Geneva. No cause of death was given.
The Parisian’s family said that “Gerald who always fought valiantly against the effects of Parkinson’s disease” had “left us all in great pain and mourning”.
In a statement the sports world expressed its grief at his death.
“Words cannot convey the regret we feel at the passing of Lamine Diack, our dear friend, sportsman and great administrator,” said a statement issued by the International Olympic Committee.
The governing body added that it “will always remember his tireless efforts and dedication to promoting and building the Olympic Movement.”
Addressing the IOC President, Thomas Bach, in the statement, a family member said “we all leave you with his abiding legacy, not only as a great administrator but as a wonderful human being.”
Born in 1934, Lamine Diack studied economics at the Sorbonne in Paris and pursued a business career before being asked to join the World Athletics in 1964.
After working as president of the FIFA World Youth Championship committee, he became secretary general of world athletics in 1972.
He was named to the IOC in 1991.
Read the full statement below:
Lamine Diack, International Olympic Committee President of the Olympic Games, was a courageous and determined fighter against all forms of doping and a stalwart for the greatest sport on earth. As President of the IOC, he served the Olympic Movement with the utmost dedication and passion, for a total of 25 years. He led the Olympic Movement with dignity and an absolute commitment to transparency, and repeatedly built bridges of friendship with all the major sporting entities. He faced every challenge that confronted the Olympic Movement with courage and loyalty. Lamine left us all in great pain and mourning. Words cannot convey the regret we feel at the passing of Lamine Diack, our dear friend, sportsman and great administrator. We will always remember his tireless efforts and dedication to promoting and building the Olympic Movement. Lamine Diack was given the Olympic Order in 2001. All the IOC Members express their heartfelt sadness at the loss of this great international leader. In the name of the Olympic Movement, we send our sincere condolences to Lamine Diack’s family and his widow, Laetitia, as well as to his brother, Abdou Diack and the entire Diack family and well-wishers all over the world. I shall never forget their warm friendship and our personal salute.