Posted: Sun March 3, 2013 10:12AM; Updated: Sun March 3, 2013 10:12AM

Bulgaria wrestling coach Armen Nazaryan on hunger strike

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Armenia's Armen Nazaryan (bottom) throws American Brandon Paulson to the mat at the 1996 Olympics.
Armenia's Armen Nazaryan (bottom) throws American Brandon Paulson to the mat at the 1996 Olympics.
Michel Lipchitz/AP/AP

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) -- Bulgaria's national wrestling team coach Armen Nazaryan has started a hunger strike to protest the IOC decision to drop wrestling from the Olympic program from 2020.

The country's wrestling federation said on Sunday that Nazaryan "will not eat until the start of the European Championship on March 22 in Tbilisi, Georgia ... and will only take juices." The 39-year-old Nazaryan won Olympic gold for his native Armenia in 1996, and for Bulgaria in 2000. He is now head coach of Bulgaria's Greco-Roman team.

Last month, the chief of Bulgaria's wrestling federation and seven-time world champion, Valentin Yordanov, returned his gold medal from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

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

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