Doping is the act of consuming artificial and often illegal substances to gain an advantage over others in sporting competitions.

Such substances include anabolic steroids, human growth hormones, stimulants and diuretics.

Organized crime and professional sports

Doping damages the integrity of sport and is linked to other forms of crime and corruption, such as match-fixing, illegal gambling, bribery and money laundering.

While doping is often viewed as a crime committed by an individual, the reality is that when an athlete takes illegal performance-enhancing drugs, this is just one piece in a larger network of crime.

Victory in professional sports can be highly lucrative, increasing the motivation for players to take illegal performance enhancers, and for coaches, managers and other officials to put pressure on them to do so. The market is ‘low risk - high profit’ and therefore increasingly attractive to organized crime groups worldwide.

A wider public health issue

Also of concern is the mass trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs which has major consequences for public health.

Doping products are often counterfeited, illegally produced, trafficked and distributed. As they are rarely tested or approved for public use, their consumption is dangerous and poses a serious health risk to both professional and amateur sportspeople.

The increase in the abuse of doping substances in elite sports is mirrored by a rise in the use of such substances in amateur and recreational sports and among young people.

A key partnership

February 2009 saw the signature of a cooperation agreement between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and INTERPOL.

WADA supports INTERPOL’s anti-doping activities and provides scientific expertise, particularly when it comes to identifying new doping substances. WADA has also published the World Anti-Doping Code which harmonizes anti-doping policies in all sports and all countries and which lists all prohibited doping substances and methods.

The collaboration between the two organizations provides a strong basis to encourage the implementation of the relevant legislation in all INTERPOL member countries, which in turn can enable law enforcement bodies to efficiently fight the trafficking of doping substances.

INTERPOL’s anti-doping activities

Criminal intelligence

INTERPOL’s anti-doping project provides tactical, operational and strategic intelligence related to doping in sport and the trafficking of performance enhancing drugs. It includes a systematic analysis of each doping case known to INTERPOL, especially an analysis of products (types, pictures, brand names, origin, supply chains, modus operandi, trends, and so on).


The project provides a framework for investigations requiring international cooperation, for instance INTERPOL played a role in investigating the case of professional cyclist Lance Armstrong. INTERPOL also contributes to international operations to dismantle criminal organizations related to the trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs.

Training and on-site support

INTERPOL participates in the training courses that WADA delivers to national anti-doping organizations on intelligence and investigations. INTERPOL is also involved in international sport competitions when authorities request any assistance: for instance working with French law enforcement officers in the field during the Tour de France cycling competition.

Orange notices

A key tool in the fight against doping is INTERPOL’s orange notice. This is an international alert, used to notify INTERPOL’s global membership about an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety. In April 2015, INTERPOL issued a global alert for 2.4-dinitrophenol (DNP), an illicit and potentially lethal drug used as a dieting and body-building aid (see the media release).

Purple notices

The purple notice is used to seek or provide information on modus operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals. In 2015, several purple notices have been issued to alert police to new methods used to disguise performance-enhancing drugs in attempts to pass them undetected through customs controls.

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