MOSCOW – Jacques Rogge, a sailor and surgeon with a squeaky-clean reputation, was elected Monday to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch as president of the International Olympic Committee.
IOC delegates overwhelmingly chose the Belgian for the most powerful job in international sports on the second of a possible four rounds of secret balloting.
Rogge defeated Kim Un-yong of South Korea, Dick Pound of Canada, Pal Schmitt of Hungary and Anita DeFrantz of the United States, who went out on the first ballot.
In the final round, Rogge's 59 votes -- three more than needed -- more than doubled the number for runner-up Kim, who received 23. Pound had 22 votes and Schmitt six.
Rogge, the IOC's eighth president and seventh from Europe, has vowed to step up the fight against drugs in sports and wants to downsize the Olympics, saying they have lost their human face to commercial excess.
He enjoys an image unscathed by the bribery scandal involving Salt Lake City's successful bid for the 2002 Winter Games.
A low-key member of the IOC since 1991, he won praise for coordinating the highly successful Sydney Games last year and for help in righting a foundering effort to organize the 2004 Games in Athens.
"It is an important moment in my life and it is a great responsibility, not only to lead the IOC but to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch, who has led the Olympic movement to a position of strength," Rogge said in Moscow's ornate Hall of Columns.
"I will dedicate the next eight years to the promotion of the Olympic movement and the IOC. It is not to be an easy task, but I believe there is such strength that the IOC and the Olympic movement will remain strong in the future," he said.
Rogge (pronounced ROH-guh), a three-time Olympic sailor in the Finn class, said he wanted to dig into his new job "tomorrow morning."
He said his first priority would be to ensure the Salt Lake City Olympics are a success. Supporters said Rogge was the perfect president for the IOC as it recovers from the Salt Lake City corruption scandal.
"He is representative of the new and reformed IOC. ... It will be very helpful in the United States and in particular Salt Lake City," said Thomas Bach, an executive board member from Germany.
The ceremonial transfer of power took place in the elegant hall near the Kremlin where Samaranch was installed as president 21 years ago, and the IOC's return there could not have seen a greater contrast.
In 1980, the IOC was nearly bankrupt and buffeted by international politics. The United States and many of its allies were boycotting the Moscow Games to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet bloc staged a counter boycott of the Los Angeles Games.
Now, the Olympics are robust. Figures released Sunday showed assets of almost $350 million. And, despite the greatest scandal in their history 2 years ago, IOC members seemed almost giddy in the last week as they gathered for two momentous votes -- for the host city of the 2008 Games, and for their president.
The first vote probably affected the second.
When Beijing won the 2008 Olympics in a landslide Friday, it placed Kim's campaign in a corner. The IOC, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, is emotionally and politically centered in Europe, too, with 57 members, and it was unlikely Asia would get two big wins at once.
Rogge also leads the European Olympic Committees, a confederation of national Olympic agencies, giving him a solid power base.
He got 46 votes on the first round, and -- while Pound and Kim stayed nearly even -- picked up DeFrantz's first-round support as well as some from Schmitt.
Opponents said Rogge also had Samaranch on his side. While the outgoing president never publicly identified his choice, it was obvious he was not displeased when he opened the white envelope and read the result.
"While I am still the president of the International Olympic Committee, I have the honor and the privilege to say the new president of the IOC is Dr. Jacques Rogge," Samaranch announced.
As the crowd rose in ovation, presidents old and new embraced, and Rogge stepped back and kissed DeFrantz on the cheek. He gave brief, unscripted remarks in English and French, two of the five languages he speaks fluently. Off to the side, Samaranch beamed with pride.
"This is a very important day in my life," Samaranch said later. "It's been so long that I've been head of the IOC. It's a joy to have a credible successor. I am fulfilled. He is young and he knows sport very well."
Rogge paid tribute to his predecessor and to former Belgian Olympic committee leader Raoul Mollet, who brought him into the Olympic movement in 1976.
"From Raoul Mollet, I learned sport," he said. "From Juan Antonio Samaranch, I learned the politics of sport."
Samaranch's own son, Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., was elected to the IOC earlier in the day, despite criticism. The outgoing president stressed the nomination, which brought worldwide questions of nepotism when it was announced in May, officially had been made by the ruling executive board, not him.
Kim, who went to his room after the vote and did not attend the announcement ceremony, did not expect to win.
"It was not a race with fair play," Kim said. "I knew last night I had lost."
His candidacy had to overcome a severe censure handed down in the Salt Lake City bribery scandal and an ethics commission inquiry on the eve of the election into reports he was offering delegates a minimum of $50,000 for expenses in their home countries while doing IOC work.
Pound, who had hinted he would quit the IOC if Kim won, said he would stay on the committee but hadn't decided whether to keep his powerful post as the IOC's marketing chief.
DeFrantz received nine votes in the first round.
"I had the same credentials or better than any of the candidates," the 49-year-old DeFrantz said. "The IOC made a decision and, as we say in the oath, 'once it's made, it's made."'
Rogge is the second Belgian to lead the IOC, after Henri de Baillet-Latour (1925-42). The only non-European president has been American Avery Brundage (1952-72).