By Julien Pretot
FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - The International Cycling Union (UCI) congress descended into farce on Friday as confusion reigned over incumbent Pat McQuaid's eligibility to stand in Friday's presidential election.
Irishman McQuaid, seeking a third consecutive term, is up against challenger Brian Cookson but, unlike the Briton, he has not been nominated by his home federation as required by the UCI constitution.
McQuaid's candidacy has been backed by Thailand and Morocco, which he has said is enough to make him eligible.
After a confusing morning at the majestic Salone dei Cinquecento in Florence's stately Palazzo Vecchio, the former residence of 16th century Italian politician Machiavelli, a planned vote on a change to the UCI constitution making it clear McQuaid could stand in the election plunged into chaos.
New Zealand delegate Richard Leggat suggested the vote on constitution changes be held next year after the federations had been consulted.
Eventually, after heated debate, a few laughs echoed around the room as the 42 delegates agreed to a secret vote on whether voting on constitutional changes should happen on Friday.
The result was 21-21, leaving most of the media covering the congress in a state of confusion as to McQuaid's eligibility as the two candidates took to the floor to give their final pre-election speeches.
(Editing by Alison Wildey)