Toronto: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who won global notoriety when he admitted smoking crack during a drunken binge, abandoned his re-election bid on Friday, after he was diagnosed with a stomach tumor.
The 45-year-old anti-tax populist said in an open letter that he was dropping out of the October 27 ballot to concentrate on his health battle -- and that his brother Doug would run in his place.
"With the advice of my family and doctors, I know I need to focus on getting better. There is much work to be done and I can`t give it my all at this point in time," Ford said.
"My heart is heavy when I tell you that I`m unable to continue my campaign for re-election as your Mayor."
Ford revealed, however, that he had asked brother Doug to "finish what we started."
"I have asked Doug to run to become the next Mayor of Toronto, because we need him. We cannot go backwards," he said in the letter, quoted widely by Canadian media.
Doug Ford, 49, added his name to the candidates list at the last moment on Friday, joining the close race for the mayor`s office. Rob Ford remains a candidate, but only for a seat on the municipal council.
Ford`s announcement came shortly before the deadline to submit names to the official list of candidates for next month`s vote. His decision to step down brings a conclusion -- for the time being -- to a tumultuous period in office that will be remembered for the circus that erupted over his drug-taking revelations last year.
Ford burst into international headlines when an alleged drug dealer tried to sell a video of the mayor allegedly smoking crack.
At the time, Ford denied using the drug, but he later acknowledged smoking crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor" while saying he was not an addict.
He rejected calls to step down but was left as a lame duck politician after the Toronto city council voted to strip him of most of his powers in November.
In January, he defiantly announced plans to run for re-election, but he was plunged back into controversy a few months later when a new video allegedly showing him smoking crack surfaced.
Ford entered rehab soon after the emergence of the video, saying he had struggled to get a grip on his personal demons.
"I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time," Ford said at the time.
"After taking some time to think about my own well-being, how to best serve the people of Toronto and what is in the best interests of my family, I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as Mayor to seek immediate help."
Doug Ford, who staunchly defended his brother during the months of revelations that tarnished his term in office, has also been forced to issue denials about his own conduct.
The Toronto Globe and Mail alleged in a lengthy five-page story published last year that Doug Ford had himself once sold hashish, a potent form of marijuana, in Toronto. Ford strongly denied the claims.