A move to allow International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid to stand for re-election despite not being nominated by Cycling Ireland has been condemned as "an embarrassment" by his rival.

British Cycling's chairman Brian Cookson is challenging McQuaid for the presidency and had looked to be on course for success after his opponent was shunned by his own federation.

Now however, the UCI's rulebook is being changed to allow candidates to be nominated by two other federations even if they are not supported by their own country.

A spokesman for Cookson's campaign said: "This is an embarrassment to cycling and a naked attempt to change the rules midway through the election. We must do better than this if we are to restore confidence in the governance of cycling."

The rule change has been put forward by the Malaysian Federation on the basis that it will take effect retrospectively, allowing McQuaid to stand. He has been nominated by the Thailand, Moroccan and Swiss federations.

The Swiss nomination is being challenged in court however by three members on the basis that the endorsement was "unconstitutional and made without proper authority".

The costs of the court case are being part-funded by the sportswear firm Skins, whose chief executive Jaimie Fuller launched the campaign group Change Cycling Now.

A statement from Skins read: "The decision to endorse is tainted on both procedural and substantial grounds and constitutes a clear attempt by Mr McQuaid to circumvent the fact that Cycling Ireland, his own national federation, has democratically decided not to present him again for reelection.

"The amount of arbitration fees required to enable the claimants to pursue their pursuit of justice are substantial and are beyond the financial capacity of the individuals concerned.

"Skins have therefore agreed to provide financial support for their share of the arbitration fees along with the legal support that they have been providing."

McQuaid is expected to be called to testify in court in Zurich on 22 August.