London, Nov. 24 (ANI): Former International Olympic Committee chief, Juan Antonio Samaranch, had close ties with the KGB, and his election for the top Olympic job was also influenced by the spy network, a new book has claimed.
Written by Yuri Felshtinsky, a Russian-American historian, Vladimir Popov, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, and two Russian chess players, 'The KGB Plays Chess' alleges that Samaranch came under the influence of Soviet agents due to his penchant for Russian antiques, The Telegraph reports.
Samaranch went to Moscow in 1977 as ambassador to the Soviet Union and Mongolia, a post he held until 1980. At the time, he was also IOC vice-president and head of Olympic protocol.
The USSR prohibited taking objects of cultural and historic value out of the country, and the KGB closely monitored all movement of antiques.
The book alleges that Samaranch was approached after discreetly sending antiques, jewellery and paintings that he owned back to Spain.
Samaranch's KGB contact was Lt Col Popov, the book's co-author.
Popov alleges that the KGB helped Samaranch to gain power at the head of the IOC in return for him working as "Soviet Sport General" - his codename.
Popov claims that the KGB ensured IOC members from the Soviet-controlled Eastern Bloc voted for Samaranch in 1980, on the eve of the Moscow Olympic Games.
Samaranch succeeded Lord Killanin of Ireland, polling 44 votes to beat Switzerland's Marc Holder, who got 21.
Taccording to the book, Samaranch played an influential role in helping the Russian resort Sochi win the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Samaranch, who suffered a heart attack earlier this month, was not available for comment.
However, IOC spokesman Mark Adams denied the claims, describing the contents of the book as "pure speculation". (ANI)