FISU President Oleg Matytsin, left, presented the Jean Peititjean Medal to Vitaly Smirnov ©FISU

International University Sports Federation (FISU) President Oleg Matytsin has presented the Jean Petitjean Medal, FISU's highest honour, to his fellow Russian Vitaly Smirnov.

A member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 1971 to 2015, Smirnov's 44-years of service make him the second-longest serving member in the organisation's history.

He led the Organising Committee for the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games and had three spells as an IOC vice president.

Smirnov celebrated his 85th birthday last week with a number of key figures from Russian sport, who gathered at the Luzhniki Olympic Complex in Moscow.

This included Matytsin, who was appointed as Russian Sports Minister last month.

As well as the Jean Peititjean Medal, Smirnov also received the Olympic Order from Ugur Erdener, an IOC vice president and the President of World Archery.

"Further to the vote by the FISU Executive Committee to bestow the Jean Petitjean Medal on Vitaly Smirnov, FISU President Oleg Matytsin presented the award to the hero of the day," a FISU statement said. 

Vitaly Smirnov has been a pivotal figure in Russian sport for more than four decades ©FISU
Vitaly Smirnov has been a pivotal figure in Russian sport for more than four decades ©FISU

"Mr Matytsin reminded the collection of sports leaders of the common roots of the Olympic and university sports Movements that were founded by the two collaborators, Pierre de Coubertin and Jean Petitjean, respectively. 

"The FISU President also highlighted Mr Smirnov's ever-lasting support of the university sports movement in Russia, which was key to the success of Soviet and Russian student athletes in FISU events."

Smirnov, a former swimmer, water polo player and boxer, was previously the first vice minister of sport for the Soviet Union.

He presided over the preparation of the 1973 Summer Universiade in Moscow before turning his attention to the Olympics in the capital seven years later.

Other roles he has taken include Head of the State Committee for Sports, while he was President of the Olympic Committee of the USSR between 1990 and 1992.

After this organisation was disbanded and replaced with the Russian Olympic Committee, he served as President from 1992 to 2001.

He has been the Honorary President ever since. 

In 2016, he was appointed to oversee a new Anti-Doping Commission in the country.