Bulgarian wrestling legend and federation chief Valentin Yordanov said Wednesday he would return his Olympic gold medal to protest the sport's loss of a berth at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Yordanov, 53, who won the gold in his 52kg freestyle wrestling category at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, dubbed his decision "a sign of protest."
He said: "With this act I show my solidarity with the millions of competitors and fans of our sport, who condemn IOC's executive board decision to vote wrestling off the programme of the 2020 Olympics," Yodanov said.
"Wrestling has been a constant part of the Olympic movement and among the founding sports in both ancient and modern Olympics," he added in a special letter to outgoing International Olympic Committee President Jacque Rogge.
Wrestling has been Bulgaria's most successful Olympic sport with the country's athletes winning a total of 16 titles.
The 15-member IOC executive board voted last week to remove the ancient sport from the 2020 Olympic schedule, prompting an outcry among wrestling officials, sportsmen and fans.