Thomas Bach paid tribute to the "man who forged the Olympic Movement" during his meeting with Mariano Rajoy ©IOC

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has praised predecessor Juan Antonio Samaranch's "great legacy" to the sports world during a visit to Spain, where he also met the country's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Bach travelled to the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) headquarters in Madrid during his visit in order to attend the launch of a new biography about Samaranch, who led the IOC from 1980 until 2001 before passing away nine years later.

He was the man who "forged the modern Olympic Movement", Bach said.

"Samaranch insisted that dialogue and diplomacy were essential to keep that dialogue and transparency to preserve the magic of the Olympic Games, which give us hope that a better world is possible," he added.

The Spaniard, whose son of the same name is a current member of the IOC Executive Board and was also present during the visit, is credited with reforming the Olympic Games in a commercial sense by forming The Olympic Programme (TOP) sponsorship scheme.

He also navigated the Movement through the boycotted Games of the 1980s before ending his tenure with the success of Sydney 2000.

This is charted throughout the biography, entitled President Samaranch and co-authored by Pedro Palacios, Edgar Mont-Roig and Juan Manuel Surroca.

It is due to be available in English, Spanish and Chinese.

Spain's Juan Antonio Samaranch was President of the International Olympic Committee from 1980 until 2001 ©Getty Images
Spain's Juan Antonio Samaranch was President of the International Olympic Committee from 1980 until 2001 ©Getty Images

Samaranch, however, was also seen as having ruled over a period of corruption, escalating in the Salt Lake City bribery scandal in 1999.

At present this is particularly relevant, considering last week's revelations of alleged bribes paid by Tokyo during their successful bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics,

Bach, accompanied by a hefty delegation, including IOC director general Christophe De Kepper, also met with Rajoy, who was present at the 2013 IOC Session in Buenos Aires, when Tokyo were awarded the Games, in order to help Madrid's ultimately unsuccessful bid.

The two met at the Palace of Moncloa, the official residence of the Prime Minister, and discussed the "role of sport in society and athletes’ preparations for the upcoming Olympic Games Rio 2016", according to the IOC. 

IOC members Marisol Casado and Jose Perurena were also present along with COE head Alejandro Blanco.

It was not mentioned whether they discussed doping problems, with Spain currently non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.

The country also continues to stall before confirming if blood bags and other evidence in the "Operation Puerto" trial of doctor Eufemiano Fuentes should be destroyed rather than handed over to anti-doping authorities on completion of the case.

Thomas Bach during his visit to the Olympic TV Channel headquarters in Madrid ©IOC
Thomas Bach during his visit to the Olympic TV Channel headquarters in Madrid ©IOC

Spain's problems in completing World Anti-Doping Agency-approved regulations have been exacerbated by the fact the country remains without a Government after negotiations to create a coalition following the election of a hung Parliament last December failed to progress.

This means there is no way to approve any changes.

Rajoy, who had been Prime Minister before the elections, is currently leading on a temporary basis.

Bach also visited the Madrid-headquarters of the soon-to-be-launched Olympic Channel during his visit.

While there, he chaired a joint Olympic Channel Board of Directors meeting at the newly inaugurated Olympic Channel Services facilities.

Bach received an update on the "great progress being made since the creation of the Olympic Channel, one of the key recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020".