Former Cofidis rider Robert Sassone dies aged 37

The former Madison world champion Robert Sassone has died at the age of 37, according to L’Équipe. The circumstances of his death have not yet been made public.

Born in New Caledonia, the Frenchman turned professional with Cofidis in 2000 and spent four years with the squad, combining track and road duties. He was later implicated in the 2004 inquiry into doping on the team.

Sassone won gold in the Madison at the 2001 World Championships in Antwerp, partnered by Jérôme Neuville. He also claimed silver in the scratch at the 2003 Worlds in Stuttgart and competed at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

On the road, Sassone claimed four wins as a professional and completed the 2002 Vuelta a España.

Sassone was banned for two years in 2004 after returning a positive test for betamethasone at the Six Days of Nouméa in his native New Caledonia. In 2007, Sassone was handed a six-month suspended sentence for his part in the Cofidis doping affair, the same inquiry which led to David Millar’s two-year ban for EPO use.

Sassone was one of five Cofidis riders to receive suspended sentences at the criminal trial, along with Daniel Majewski, Marek Rutiewicz, Philippe Gaumont and Medéric Clain. Soigneur Bogdan Madejak and trainer Oleg Kozlitine were also handed suspended sentences.

Sassone’s former teammate Nico Mattan reacted to the news by posting a photo of Sassone on Twitter and writing “Another ex-teammate from Cofidis has left us.”

Frank Vandenbroucke died from a pulmonary embolism in 2009 at the age of 34 and Philippe Gaumont died aged 40 following a heart attack in 2013. Another Cofidis rider, Andrei Kivilev, was killed when he crashed at the 2003 Paris-Nice.

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