Wrestler returns Olympic gold in protest

Feb. 26, 2013 at 10:52 AM

MAKHACHKALA, Russia, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A Russian wrestler said he has returned his Olympic gold medal to protest a proposal to cut wrestling from the 2020 Games.

Sagid Murtazaliev, who won heavyweight freestyle gold in 2000, sent his medal back to the International Olympic Committee, R-Sport reported Tuesday.

"The decision to return my Olympic medal was not easy for me," Murtazaliev said in a letter addressed to IOC President Jacques Rogge. "But after much thinking, I decided anyway to follow the example of the great Bulgarian wrestler Valentin Yordanov.

Last week Yordanov returned the gold medal he won in Atlanta in 1996.

Murtazaliev said he took the step to protest a recent recommendation by the IOC executive committee not to include wrestling as a core sport in the Olympic program.

A final decision on the program for the 2020 Games will be made in September.

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