The International Canoe Federation (ICF) has confirmed with “great sadness” the death of their former vice-president Marcel Venot due to coronavirus.
The ICF said Venot had been slowly recovering from recent health problems, but passed away aged 82 after contracting coronavirus.
Venot served as ICF vice-president between 1996 to 2004, while he led the French Canoe Federation on two occasions.
His first term as French Canoe Federation President ran from 1980 to 1984, before returning for a second spell between 1988 and 1996.
The ICF highlighted efforts restore slalom canoeing to the Olympic programme and work to enhance the professionalism of the ICF as being among Venot’s biggest achievements.
"Between 1996 and 2000, under the presidency of Italy's Sergio Orsi, Marcel played a key role in supporting the re-introduction of canoe slalom at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, after it was initially removed from the programme," the ICF said.
"He activated national federations around the globe to lobby for slalom's successful return to the programme.
"Following Sydney, and under the presidency of Germany's Ulrich Feldhoff, Marcel worked with the then ICF secretary-general, Jose Perurena, to professionalise the ICF headquarters and to have the position of secretary general turned into a paid role.
"Marcel also devoted a lot of time to strengthening cooperation between the ICF and the International Vaá Federation."
The ICF said Venot discovered canoeing in 1954 at a local club in Roanne and went on to compete at the European Championships in 1957 and 1959 as a sprint canoeist.
He became chairman of canoe sprint and wildwater canoeing at the French Canoe Federation, before becoming a member of the ICF canoe slalom committee in 1988.
Venot served as President of the Organising Committee of the 1991 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Vaires-sur-Marne, which will serve as a Paris 2024 Olympic Games competition venue.
He is also credited with being one of the key officials involved in developing the automatic start system used at the 1991 World Championships, having brokered an agreement between the ICF and a French company, AGSO, to develop the first system.
It was used the following year at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games and has now become standard in competition.
The French Canoe Federation has expressed its condolences to Venot’s family.
"We would like to express our deep gratitude for his commitment to federal structures and bodies, his activism and dedication to canoe kayak," said Jean Zoungrana, French Canoe Federation President.
"Our thoughts go out to all those close to him and his family to whom we express all our compassion and sincere condolences."
Venot also served as an executive Board member of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee from 1993 to 1997.