American figure skater Mariah Bell is accused of intentionally cutting her South Korean rival Lim Eun-soo with the blade of her ice skate at the World Figure Skating Championships in Japan on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old allegedly came up behind Lim during a practice session and kicked her left calf with her skate. The 16-year-old received medical attention for the injury at the scene, The Straits Times first reported.
The International Skating Union (ISU) said it was aware of the incident but that it didn’t appear to have been intentional.
“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 said in a statement.
Lim’s management agency All That Sports, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday, told the Straits Times it disputed the ISU’s characterization of the incident as an accident. It additionally accused Bell ― who trains under the same coach as Lim ― of bullying Lim prior to the championships and failing to apologize for the injury.
The agency said it has asked the Korea Skating Union to file a formal complaint.
A Korea Skating Union official told Agence France-Presse that video footage of the incident does not conclusively show the injury as intentional.
“At this stage, we can’t conclude Bell caused the injury on purpose,” the official said.
Despite what happened, Lim went on to score a personal best ― 72.91 points ― in the short program, coming in fifth place, just ahead of Bell.
Neither skater has publicly commented on what happened.
The incident brings back memories of the violent 1994 injury to figure skater Nancy Kerrigan involving her then rival, Tonya Harding.
In that attack, Kerrigan suffered a leg injury after being struck by a man found to have been hired by Harding’s ex-husband just before the Olympic trials. U.S. Figure Skating banned Harding from ever competing again.