President Vladimir Putin's spokesman says Russia will do all it can to persuade the International Olympic Committee to keep wrestling in the Olympics.

According to Russian news reports, Dmitry Peskov says Russia will work with the IOC "at all possible levels" to argue against the move to drop wrestling.

The IOC's executive board voted to cut wrestling from the 2020 Olympics, angering Russia, whose wrestlers have won 77 gold medals since the Soviet times.

The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg to consider the issue. The final decision will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Meanwhile, top Bulgarian wrestler Valentin Yordanov said Wednesday he's returning his Olympic gold medal to protest the IOC decision to drop wrestling from the Olympic program.

The 53-year-old Yordanov said he'll give back his gold medal from the 52-kilogram freestyle category at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The seven-time world champion said the combined efforts of all national federations would help keep wrestling's deserved place in the Olympic Games.

Bulgarians have won 16 Olympic titles, making wrestling the most successful Olympic sport in the Balkan country.