Former International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch is in 'very critical' condition after suffering a heart attack today and doctors treating him fear for his life.

The 89-year-old is in intensive care in the Hospital Quiron in Barcelona where he is being treated for acute heart failure.

Doctors admit the next 48 hours will be touch and go for Samaranch.

‘Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch Torello was admitted into the Hospital Quiron in Barcelona due to acute heart failure,’ read a statement from the hospital.

‘He is currently under intensive care and in very critical condition.’

Samaranch held the presidency of the IOC for 21 years until electing not to stand again in 2001, when he was replaced by Jacques Rogge.

The Spaniard, who was made honorary life president of the IOC on his retirement, has suffered from health problems since stepping down.

In September 2001 he spent 11 days in hospital with fatigue, while towards the end of last year he was admitted to intensive care in Monaco with difficulty breathing.

One of the doctors treating Samaranch, Rafael Esteban Mur, revealed: ‘At the moment he is being helped to breathe and under intense pharmacological care in the ICU.

‘The next few hours will be decisive in knowing if there are chances of him recovering given that his condition is very critical.

‘We can't be optimistic because of the acute condition and the advanced age of the patient.

‘At the moment he is stable, but the risk is high during the first 48 hours. We fear for his life.’