An American figure skater is under investigation after being accused of bullying and deliberately slashing a South Korean rival during warm-ups at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, on Wednesday.
According to the Agence France-Presse, Mariah Bell, 22, allegedly kicked Korean competitor Lim Eun-soo, 16, while the two were warming up before the women’s short program competition. Lim, who is a first-time senior world championships competitor, was immediately given medical attention and cleared to compete.
The South Korean teen ended up taking fifth place with a score of 72.91 points, while Bell finished in sixth place with 71.26 points.
After the event, an official for All That Sports, Lim’s management agency, told Yonhap News that Lim was “slowly skating on the edge of the rink after completing her turn” when Bell “suddenly kicked and stabbed Lim’s calf with her skate blades.”
“Mariah Bell didn’t apologize to Lim Eun-soo after the incident and instead continued to rehearse for her routine,” the official told Yonhap News.
The agency also claimed that Bell, who happens to train under the same coach as Lim, was “bullying Lim for months.”
Although the agency asked the Korean Skating Union to file a complaint with the International Skating Union regarding the incident, the Korean Skating Union felt there was not enough evidence to file a formal report.
"At this stage we can't conclude Bell caused the injury on purpose," a Korean Skating Union official told AFP. "It is hard to tell just by watching the video footage of the incident."
On Thursday, the International Skating Union said it also investigated the claims and found “no evidence” proving Bell acted with intention.
"The incident was verbally reported to the ISU by the Korean Team Leader however no formal complaint has been received," the ISU said in a statement. "Based on the evidence at hand at this point in time, which includes a video, there is no evidence that Ms. Bell intended any harm to Ms. Lim.
"The ISU met with delegates from both USA and Korea and urged both parties to find an amicable solution. The ISU maintains that this remains the appropriate approach,” the statement added.
(Photos from left: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images, Igor Russak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)