The Council of Europe has approved Polish Sports Minister Witold Bańka as the continent's candidate for WADA President ©Getty Images

The Council of Europe has approved Polish Sports Minister Witold Bańka as the continent's candidate for World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President.

It means his bid to replace Sir Craig Reedie in charge will be submitted on behalf of European Governments.

Today's decision, which passed unanimously, was widely expected after the Ad-Hoc European Committee for WADA (CAHAMA) recommended putting Bańka forward last month.

He was chosen over Norway's WADA vice-president Linda Helleland and Flemish Sports Minister Philippe Muyters in a vote held during CAHAMA's meeting in Strasbourg.

The Pole received 28 of the 49 votes, with Helleland earning 16 and Muyters claiming five.

Sir Craig's replacement as President will come from WADA's public authorities group under the organisation's rotational policy.

Each continent has been asked to put forward a candidate before a group meeting in Montreal on May 14, prior to WADA's bi-annual gathering of the 38-member Foundation Board.

It is hoped that a consensus on who should take over from Sir Craig when he steps down in November will be reached at the meeting.

If this does not prove possible, a secret ballot, where each region will have one vote, will be held.

The contenders who fail to secure the nomination from the public authorities have been urged to cease campaigning.

The public authorities claim their chosen candidate should then shadow the current administration prior to their appointment at the World Conference on Doping in Sport in Katowice in Poland, scheduled to take place between November 5 and 7, where there is not likely to be an election.

Today's news is a blow to Helleland and Muyters who could now officially withdraw from the race.

Bańka and Helleland, who had won the support of many athletes after building a reputation for herself as an outspoken anti-establishment figure in the anti-doping movement, clashed in November.

The Polish official claimed the Norwegian should stand down as WADA vice-president during her campaign for the top job, which she said was an "offensive" and "politically-motivated" stance.

Marcos Diaz of the Dominican Republic is also in the race for the Americas, while another candidate could emerge from Asia.