As Jacques Rogge steps away from the position as President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which he has held since 2001, there is a certain irony in the circumstances.
In 1894, two years before the first of the modern Olympics took place in Athens, the man credited with their instigation, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was still struggling to kindle public enthusiasm for the idea. He raised the topic once again at the Congress of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques, at which the bulk of debate centred upon what constituted amateur sport, with one of the key topics being that of betting.
In March 2011 Rogge addressed the very same question, describing reports of illegal betting within sumo wrestling as "another frightening example", and adding: "There have been documented cases of cheating and match-fixing in sumo wrestling in Japan. There has been recently a very visible case in cricket. There is no safe haven in the world where nothing happens."
Rogge was speaking to the press after a meeting that had drawn a group of highly influential figures to the IOC's headquarters on the shore of Lake Geneva in Lausanne. Those present included Ministers from the British, Australian, French and Swiss Governments, and representatives from international organisations including the United Nations and Interpol.
Eleven years earlier there had been a similar meeting of minds in Lausanne as Governments and assorted agencies had come together to consider how best to coordinate efforts to eradicate doping from sport, a meeting which was a precursor to the establishment of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
It was the overriding concern of the sport at the time, as Rogge made memorably clear with his address to the Olympic sportsmen and women of the world on the subject of how they should behave: "Athletes, you are role models, and your achievements both on and off the field of play will inspire and motivate future generations. Please compete in sport in a spirit of fair play, mutual understanding and respect, and above all, please refuse doping."
But now there was a new - and old - topic on the agenda: betting. "I think that sport is in danger," Rogge concluded. "It's not about the Olympic Games; it's about sport in general."
Rogge's term at the head of the IOC has been a relatively modest 12 years, well behind those of Henri de Baillet-Latour (1925-1942), Avery Brundage (1952-1972), Juan Antonio Samaranch (1980-2001) and the man credited with the effective creation of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who held his post from 1896 - when he took over from the Greek who was the first President during the Athens Olympics, Demetrius Vikelas - until 1925.
During those dozen years, this 71-year-old surgeon and former Olympic sailor from Belgium has endeavoured to put issues, rather than himself, at the centre of the Movement. First it was doping at the top of the agenda, then betting; but never Rogge. There will not be the remotest risk that this President will perform a 180-degrees turn and insist on an extra term of office, as his predecessor Samaranch - or His Excellency, as he preferred to be addressed - did.
The Spaniard presided over the transformation of the Games from its impecunious state in the wake of the ruinously expensive 1976 Montreal Olympics - ruinous not just for that city, but for the image of the Games as an object of desire for other bidders. The formation of a global sponsoring system and the negotiation of lucrative television rights deals effectively recreated the modern Games. Without Samaranch's direction, the Olympics would not have reached the financially secure position in which they currently find themselves, with reported reserves of more than $500 million £320 million/€380 million).
But the downside of the Samaranch years was the suspicion of corruption, and then - in the wake of the Salt Lake City bid for the 2002 Winter Games - the proof of widespread corruption. Before Samaranch took up his position in 1980, IOC members had to fund their own travel to bidding cities. Soon there were first-class tickets and lavish hotel rooms for the travelling members of the self-appointed club. Under Samaranch, everybody got an upgrade.
It was during the Spaniard's time, too, that the problem of doping within the Olympics emerged to public prominence, with the banning of Ben Johnson in the wake of his world record 100 metres victory at the 1988 Seoul Games. Samaranch pointed out with some justice at the time that this piece of bad news was really good news in that it showed genuine resolve within the Movement to pursue doping cheats. But doubts remained over how genuine and widespread that resolve was.
When Rogge took over the top job, his first, and perhaps defining distinction was to become the first IOC President to stay in the Olympic Village, along with all the athletes, during a Games - as he did in Salt Lake in 2002. It was an approach with which he effectively book-ended his Presidential career, as he conspicuously refused the chauffeur-driven cars on offer at the London 2012 Games, preferring to travel by public transport. The message was clear - athletes are at the centre of the Olympics.
Under Rogge's direction there have been a series of healthy reforms and additions to the Olympic Movement. The conditions which encouraged the corruption around bidding cities have been revised, with travel now being undertaken by a relatively small group of IOC members.
The Youth Olympic Games were launched in 2010. The Olympics have been awarded to South America for the first time following Rio's successful bid for the 2016 Games. Towards the end of his term, Rogge has confronted countries excluding women from the Olympics. And there has also been a very conscious effort to ensure that cities will not have to be gigantic economic powerhouses to be able to host the Games in future. "I'm known within the IOC as Mr No," Rogge said. "Because there are many requests for more athletes, more sports, more this and more that. And I say, 'No.'"
Naturally, Rogge's progress over the last dozen years has not been entirely smooth. After announcing in July 2008 that foreign media would, "for the first time", be able to report and publish freely from China during the Beijing Olympics, he had the embarrassment of having to acknowledge that those initial assurances from the host nation had not been insisted upon.
During those Beijing Games, the breast-beating of Usain Bolt in the final 15metres of his world record 100m victory and his subsequent celebrations provoked Rogge to comment that this behaviour was "not the way we perceive being a champion". He harked back to his initial call upon athletes to compete in a spirit of respect, adding that Bolt "should show more respect for his competitors". Rogge later clarified his position, saying: "Maybe there was a little bit of misunderstanding. What he does before or after the race I have no problem with. I just thought that his gesticulation during the race was maybe a little disrespectful."
Before the London 2012 Olympics, Rogge took the difficult decision to turn down calls for a minute of silence to commemorate the Israeli victims of the Palestinian group Black September on the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Games. The IOC instead held smaller ceremonies in London and at the German airbase where most of the athletes met their deaths.
This year there has been another highly controversial difficulty following the passing of the law in Russia which makes illegal the open promotion of gay rights, a piece of litigation which has generated criticism from around the world - although not all around the world, given that some countries either maintain a death sentence for homosexual activity or deny that any of their citizens are that way inclined.
Amid calls for next year's Sochi Winter Olympics to be boycotted, Rogge has fallen back on the statement that the IOC are still awaiting "full clarification" over the law. In the meantime, the Russian authorities have tried to assure the IOC and wider world that the new law will not affect any of those arriving to watch or participate in next year's Games. It is still an unhappy and uneasy situation.
In the broadest terms, Rogge's end-of-year address in 2012, which maintained that the Olympic Movement was "stronger than ever" as it neared the end of its 118th year of existence, served effectively as his own statement of values.
He praised the London 2012 Games for its legacy planning, for advancing the cause of environmental sustainability, for embracing social media and for setting new records in participation by women, adding: "The Games were definitely an Athlete's Games by putting the athletes at the heart of the event, showing us outstanding performances which will inspire the next generation."
Rogge noted that London's recently concluded Olympics had involved 156 competitors who had taken part in the initial Youth Olympic Games in Singapore two years earlier, adding that he was sure the Sochi 2014 would contain competitors who had taken part in the initial Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck earlier in 2012.
And he returned to the two keynote issues of his Presidential term: "In keeping with the IOC's zero tolerance policy, the London Games featured the most extensive anti-doping testing programme in Olympic history. In another initiative to protect the integrity of sport, we expanded our cooperation with law enforcement agencies and other partners to guard against illegal and irregular betting."
The ministers at the Lausanne gathering in 2011 were reportedly "shocked" to hear from Rogge that the previous year's figure for illegal betting was an estimated $140 billion (£89 billion/€106 billion). In confirming this figure at the subsequent press conference, Rogge, with a grim smile, described it as "a budget much higher than that of many developing nations", adding: "This is a big problem in the entire world. There is illegal betting where there is broadband internet."
Rogge added that betting patterns were clearly established to avoid detection as much as possible. "We know there are people betting in other continents on European second league divisions," he said. "There are bets being taken on fourth division matches in certain leagues, so that shows you the problem. It's for the most popular sports - definitely, yes. But in the popular sports it's not necessarily in the first league or the top teams, it's mostly as we see second division, third division, because of the small exposure to cameras, to supervision, fewer spectators.
Rogge called on Governments around the world to clamp down on illegal betting and illegal bookmakers. "We need their support, they alone have the judicial powers, they can tap telephone calls, they can issue warrants, they can search baggage - we cannot do that," he said. "There is a far bigger danger to the total credibility of sport because these are Mafia people and they bet at the same time as manipulating the result of a match," he explained.
In concluding his December 2012 address, Rogge described all the milestones and events mentioned as "a testament to the values and priorities of the modern Olympic Movement", adding: "We have accomplished a lot together, but we have much more to do in the year ahead – and I am looking forward to the task."
Now that year is almost over, and the tasks stretch on beyond the range of Jacques Rogge.
There is now in place an increasingly well established operation to combat doping - with the recent suspension of the testing laboratory in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2016 Games offering evidence that getting things right in this area will be prioritised ahead of the risk of causing political embarrassment.
As for the illegal betting issue, the IOC will continue to work with Interpol and other Government agencies to preclude it.
And Rogge's successor can take over the management with the knowledge that there is a better framework established than there has ever been to encourage aspiration within the Olympic Movement - whether it be from bidding cities in emerging nations, or from emerging athletes both male and female.
Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, covered the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics as chief feature writer for insidethegames, having covered the previous five summer Games, and four winter Games, for The Independent. He has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, The Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. To follow him on Twitter click here.