L’Equipe reports that Robert Sassone, a former professional with the Cofidis team, has died at age 37. The Frenchman raced for the French team from 2000-2003. He won a stage of the 2002 Tour du Limousin but was at his best on the velodrome; he won 2001 world championships in the Madison event.

Born in Noumea, France, Sassone, who had battled cancer for several years, took his own life, according to cycling sources in the French Overseas Territory in the south Pacific Ocean.

“We’re very affected by his death. I knew that he was sick, but alas that it should lead to this … It’s a real pity, it’s a great champion who leaves us. A guy who pedaled like no one,” New Caledonia cycling chief Gerard Salaun told RRB.

He was sentenced to a six-month suspended prison sentence in 2004 for doping charges stemming an investigation into the Cofidis team, and he was also suspended from racing for two years after a failed anti-doping test in that same year at the Six Days of Nouméa.