WADA - Performance-Enhancing Drug Trafficking on the Dark Web

Performance-Enhancing Drug Trafficking on the Dark Web / David Décary-Hétu; University of Montreal; World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) . - Montreal : WADA, 2022

A year-long research project led by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) independent Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) Department into the extent and nature of the trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) on the dark web has concluded that it is a marginal activity and very unlikely to be a significant source of drugs for high-level athletes or coaches.

This study was led by WADA I&I’s Confidential Information Unit in collaboration with the Agency’s Science Department and Professor David Décary-Hétu from the University of Montreal’s School of Criminology in Quebec, Canada. It was initiated in an effort to better understand the extent of PED trafficking on the dark web and to assess the type and quality of PEDs being trafficked there.

The main conclusions of the study reveal:

  • It is very unlikely that high-level athletes would use this source for PED purchases; it attracts more low-level athletes, such as amateur or non-competitive bodybuilders.
  • PED trafficking appears to be a marginal activity, both in absolute numbers and relative to the overall clear web and dark web underground economy. PED purchases represent only a small fraction of all dark web marketplace listings.
  • Dark web PED trafficking favors small scale rather than bulk purchasing.
  • There is no organized community of users exchanging information – the clear web remains a more active marketplace for the buying and selling of PEDs.
  • Laboratory testing data suggests products are often mislabeled or contain major discrepancies in terms of their concentration. In 83% of transactions carried out for this study, the product and/or concentration received was not as advertised.
  • Although significantly smaller in scope than the clear web, PED trafficking on the dark web appears to operate unchecked. The dark web affords actors the advantage of anonymity, which combined with weak regulations and a lack of enforcement, allows dark web PED suppliers the freedom to operate with relative impunity.

Original document


Research / Study
17 June 2022
Décary-Hétu, David
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World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
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Université de Montréal (UdeM) - University of Montreal
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
Counterfeit drug
Gym/fitness environment
Illegal production / trade
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Date generated
20 June 2022
Date of last modification
23 June 2022
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