Don't return medals to IOC in protest, Russian Olympic President tells wrestlers
Thursday, 28 February 2013
February 28 - Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Alexander Zhukov has urged the country's Olympic wrestling medallists not to return their medals to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in protest against the decision to remove the discipline from the list of core sports at the Games.
Earlier this month, Bulgarian Wrestling Federation President Valentin Yordanov sent back the gold medal he won at Atlanta in 1996 to IOC President Jacques Rogge following the Executive Board's decision to remove the sport from the list of core sports after Rio 2016.
Russia's Sagid Murtazaliev (pictured top), who won gold in the 97 kilogram category at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, has also returned his medal to the IOC.
Other Olympic wrestling medallists are planning to follow the lead of Yordanov and Murtazaliev, with Russia, the world's strongest wrestling nation, particularly angered by the decision.
Russia topped the wrestling medal table at the London 2012 Olympics with 11 medals, four of which were gold coming from Roman Vlasov and Alan Khugayev in the men's Greco-Roman, Dzhamal Otarsultanov in the men's freestyle and Natalia Vorobieva in the women's freestyle.
But Zhukov says despite the disappointment with the decision, wrestlers should not give away their Olympic medals in protest.
"We now need to make efforts to persuade the IOC to keep wrestling," he said.
"But the honestly-won Olympic medals must remain with their owners."
Wrestling will now join the seven sports bidding to be included on the Olympic programme which are baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, squash, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu.
All are due to give vital presentations to the IOC Executive Board in St Petersburg at the end of May.
The final decision on which should be included as a core sport for 2020 will be taken by the full IOC Session in Buenos Aires in September.
February 2013: Olympic champion returns gold medal to Rogge in protest at decision to axe wrestling