Gian-Franco Kasper will stand down as FIS President next year ©Getty Images

Gian-Franco Kasper has announced he will stand down as President of the International Ski Federation in May 2020 after 22 years at the helm of the worldwide governing body.

The 75-year-old informed the FIS Council of his intention to leave the organisation during its autumn meeting in Constance, Germany, today.

Kasper's tenure in charge of the FIS will officially come to an end during its Congress in Thailand on May 22.

The Swiss official, an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a former member of its Executive Board, has been involved with the FIS for nearly half a century after he became secretary-general in 1975.

He was elected unopposed to serve a fresh four-year term as President in May 2018.

In a statement confirming his departure, the FIS said Kasper would "lead the organisation with the same full commitment until and during the Congress in May 2020".

"He stated that the communication of his decision has been made at this early stage to enable a timely process for the National Ski Associations to prepare any applications for candidacies," the FIS added.

Under Kasper's reign as FIS President, the global governing body has expanded from 100 members to 133.

He also saw an increase in the number of skiing medal events on the Winter Olympic Games programme to over 50.

But his tenure has also been dogged by several controversial incidents.

Gian-Franco Kasper has been FIS President since 1998 ©Getty Images
Gian-Franco Kasper has been FIS President since 1998 ©Getty Images

In 2017, the outspoken sports administrator was forced to apologise after comparing calls for Russia to be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang with the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

The head of the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations landed himself in hot water again last year after he referred to "so-called" climate change in an interview with a Swiss-German newspaper.

In the same interview, Kasper said it was was easier to organise the Olympics in countries governed by a dictatorship and claimed the Winter Games needed to be reduced in size, comments criticised by the IOC.

Kasper claimed his words "were not meant to be taken literally, but this was not clear in the final story".

In 2005, the Swiss said he was opposed to women competing in the ski jump and questioned whether it was "appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view".

Kasper became just the fourth FIS President when he was elected to the top job in May 1998.

Sweden's Ivar Holmquist served in the role from 1924 to 1934, before being succeeded by Nicolai Ramm Østgaard of Norway, who led the organisation from 1934 to 1951.

Switzerland's Marc Hodler took over from the Norwegian and remained at the helm for a 47-year spell until 1998.

Hodler, who had exposed the Olympic bid scandal for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and Paralympics, retired as FIS President at the age of 80.

Kasper was elected as an IOC member in 2000 and served on the body through until last year.

He was part of the ruling Executive Board from 2014 to 2018 before being replaced as the winter sports representative by International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation President Ivo Ferriani.