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U.S. skater accused of slashing rival in warm-ups; union says "no evidence" of intent

Figure skater Mariah Bell accused by opponent

Tokyo -- The International Skating Union says there is "no evidence" that American figure skater Mariah Bell intentionally harmed a South Korean rival. The alleged incident happened during a warmup on the opening day of the world championships.

The BBC reports that South Korean management agency All That Sports published a statement on Wednesday saying Bell had kicked Lim Eun-soo with her skate and cut her calf during an official practice before the short program. However, the ISU reviewed video of the session and said there was no proof that the American had acted deliberately.

Video shows Bell, 22, approaching the 16-year-old Lim from behind near the edge of the rink before skating past with her leg outstretched, the BBC reports. Lim was pictured grimacing after the incident.

ISU World Figure Skating Championships
ISU World Figure Skating Championships - Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan - March 20, 2019. Combination photo of South Korea's Eunsoo Lim (L) and Mariah Bell of the U.S. (R) in action during the Ladies Short Program. ISSEI KATO / REUTERS

"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 issued on Thursday.

Lim went on to skate one of the best performances of her career on Wednesday, finishing fifth in the women's short program. Bell placed sixth. Both skaters train under coach Rafael Arutyunyan, the BBC reports.

There was a similar incident ahead of the world championships in 2009 when a South Korean television station reported that Japanese skaters interfered with Yuna Kim during official practice. No evidence of interference was found and no disciplinary action was taken.

The women's free skate is on Friday.