At its meeting next week in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC will toss a few more of its small fry to the wolves while the man who has presided over the Games' disgrace will surely remain in command. But if Juan Antonio Samaranch won't do the honorable thing and resign, at least his fifth term as IOC president will end in 2001. Then, at last, the organization will have a chance not only to find fresh, untainted leadership but also to establish the sort of management used by virtually every other organization—governmental, profit and nonprofit—in the world. That is, the chief executive should be a paid professional working with other salaried administrators, all answerable to an independent board. The Olympics should not be run by a volunteer CEO any more than should the United Nations, Coca-Cola, the NHL, Omaha or Argentina. Samaranch got a lot of credit for eliminating amateurism from the Olympics. Unfortunately, he got rid of the wrong amateurs.
In choosing a successor to Samaranch, the circle-the-wagons IOC will undoubtedly want to stay within the "movement." If so, there is one obvious choice: Jean-Claude Killy. He has all the credentials. Not only was Killy a dashing champion—a three-time gold medalist in skiing—but he also proved his administrative skills with his superb management of the Albertville Games in '92. An untarnished IOC back-bencher since '95, Killy is European, a Frenchman who lives in Switzerland, but unlike Samaranch he likes the United States and is comfortable with American culture. He's also a close friend of Samaranch's, so his election would not repudiate his hapless predecessor.
For now, Killy is saying all the right things. " Mr. Samaranch will be on the job until 2001, so there is absolutely no reason to speak about succession today," he told me recently. But then, as we strolled along the promenade by Lake Geneva, he didn't reject the idea. Laughing, Killy said, "You know, when I left my house, I was 15 years old, and it seems like I never came back. I've been in hotels all my life, and now I'm 55, and I'm a little tired of it all. So we will wait before I make any commitments."
Killy clearly seems to be the one person—a leader in practice and image alike—who can save the Olympics from its committee.