TODAY

TODAY   |  May 01, 2014

Rob Ford takes leave of absence as photo emerges

Toronto’s troubled mayor leaves his post to seek help for alcoholism as a new image emerges showing the controversial leader with a copper pipe. NBC News has not independently confirmed the video from which the photo is taken.

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>>> there are some new problems this morning for embattled toronto mayor rob ford . he says he'll take a leave of absence to get professional help for substance abuse problems. this is in the wake of last year's scandal in which he admitted smoking crack . and a promise ford made to us right here on "today."

>> all i can say, that actions speak louder than words. i invite you to come back -- give me five or six months. and if you don't see a difference, i'll leave my --

>> that was toronto mayor rob ford nearly six months ago when we followed a very public display of drug abuse . overnightmare ford announced he is headed to rehab. the toronto sun posted an audio recording it says is from monday night. on it a voice attributed to ford makes lewd comments about his wife and his female rival in the race for mayor. the other allegation is summed up in these images from canada's "globe and mail." two reporters from the paper claim this video is ford smoking crack . nbc news has been unable to verify the authenticity of the recordings. in a statement, mayor ford are says, "i have a problem with alcohol and the choicesvy made while under the influence and i know that i need professional help and i'm now 100% committed to getting myself right." the original allegations of substance abuse surfaced this time last year.

>> i might have had some drinks and driven which was absolutely wrong.

>> i do not use crack cocaine nor am i an addict of crack cocaine .

>> what's the matter with you, mr. mayor?

>> reporter: we spoke with the mayor at the height of the controversy last november. you played a game of semantics. they asked you were you a crack addict , according to you, and you said no, i'm not.

>> and they said do you use crack cocaine ? no, i don't use crack cocaine . i don't. have i tried crack cocaine ? yes, i've tried crack.

>> reporter: all of this led the toronto city council to strip the mayor of much of his powers. at the time, ford assured us he had no plans to leave office vowing to turn his life around. i mean obviously you don't want to play a game of "i told you so" here but everybody kind of saw this coming. the good news is he's admitted now he has a problem an hopefully he'll get help.

>> apparently ford's attorney says he plans to stay in the mayoral race.

>> i think the race is in october or the election is in october. we'll see what happens.