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Lithuanian figure skating protest rejected

The International Skating Union rejected a protest by Lithuania over the fourth-place finish of its ice dancers at the World Championships in the sport's latest judging dispute.

ISU referee Courtney Jones, the referee for Friday's ice dancing free skate in Nagano, Japan, called the protest unfounded.

Lithuanian filed the protest Friday after Israelis Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski won bronze. It was Israel's first medal at the championships.

Povilas Vanagas and Margarita Drobiazko of Lithuania had beaten Chait and Sakhnovski in every major competition the past several years except October's Skate America.

Vanagas said the main reason for the protest was "to try to take care of the people living in the ISU system and taking part in the competition."

More than 30 skaters and coaches from the ice dancing event, including American champions Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev, signed a petition in favor of Lithuania's protest.

"It hurts because the people who put their names on the petition are friends of ours," Chait said. "They congratulated us after we won."

The protest comes as the ISU is trying to restore confidence following after the judging scandal at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Russians Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze won gold but the IOC later awarded duplicate medals to Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.

The decision came after French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne told ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta she had "submitted to a certain pressure" from the French federation to vote for the Russians.

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