MAKHACHKALA, Russia, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The speaker of a Russian legislature Thursday asked an Olympic wrestling champion not to return his gold medal in protest over the Games cutting the sport.
Sagid Murtazaliev, winner of the heavyweight freestyle wrestling medal for Russia at the 2000 games in Sydney, said he would return his medal after the International Olympic Committee voted last month to drop wrestling from the 2020 Olympics, R-Sport reported.
"Do not return the medal," requested Khizri Shikhsaidov, the speaker of the Dagestan regional parliament.
"Don't give it to anyone. That medal belongs to the people of Dagestan, including to me and to all those who passionately followed and supported you," the speaker said.
Murtazaliev said in a letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge "the decision to return my Olympic medal was not easy for me."
Wrestling has been included in the Olympics since 1904, but in recent years has had little spectator interest.
The IOC will make the final decision about what sports will be dropped for the 2020 Olympics in September at a meeting in Buenos Aires.