GENEVA -- With embattled UCI president Pat McQuaid in an intense contest for his job against British challenger Brian Cookson, the cycling body's election rules are set to be changed.
The International Cycling Union said late Monday it is preparing an amendment to its statutes, which could safeguard McQuaid's nomination for the presidential election.
McQuaid is trying to secure a valid candidacy after his home Irish federation withdrew its support and a nomination from Switzerland, where he lives, is being legally challenged next month.
The Malaysian federation now proposes changing rules to allow any two UCI members worldwide, not just home federations, to nominate a candidate.
Cookson's campaign described the proposal as "an embarrassment to cycling and a naked attempt to change the rules midway through the election."
McQuaid's bid for a third four-year term is being waged against widespread attacks on the UCI and its credibility. Those intensified in fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping affair and continued revelations of an endemic culture of doping while the UCI was led by McQuaid's predecessor and mentor, Hein Verbruggen.
The UCI has pledged to create an independent panel to investigate claims it colluded in protecting Armstrong from scrutiny during his career, and that $125,000 donated by the now-disgraced American rider was paid to cover up suspicious doping tests.
Cookson promises to restore cycling's reputation and create an independent body running the sport's anti-doping program.
With McQuaid needing a legitimate nomination to stand for election, he now has support from Thailand and Morocco, where he is a member of their national cycling bodies, the UCI said.
The amendment can be voted on at the Sept. 27 election meeting in Florence, Italy, and retrospectively apply to an August deadline for nominations.
"The Malaysian Federation and (Asian confederation) state that their aims are to reinforce the independence of future UCI Presidents by ensuring they are able to carry out the role based on serving the global interests of cycling, independently from those of any single nominating national federation," the UCI said in a statement.
The tactic was criticized by Cookson, who was nominated by British Cycling and has been a member of the UCI management board since 2009.
"We must do better than this if we are to restore confidence in the governance of cycling," his campaign office said in a statement.
McQuaid's Swiss nomination is set to be judged by a national federation tribunal in Zurich on Aug. 22.
Three members of Swiss Cycling have challenged an endorsement of McQuaid's election bid passed in May, arguing it is "tainted on both procedural and substantial grounds."