#Sponseredathlete: the marketing of image and performance enhancing drugs on Facebook and Instagram

Nick Gibbs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


This article sets out to investigate the marketing of image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs) on the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. Drawing upon a ‘connective’ ethnographic exploration of IPED use and supply, the paper first outlines a supplier typology on these platforms, before shedding light on the marketing strategies employed by sellers in order to overcome the inherent distrust of online sales and build a trustworthy brand. Techniques identified include athlete sponsorship, the sharing of bodybuilding fitspiration content, self-objectification, posting images showcasing transformation photos and customer feedback, and seasonal sales and promotions. Analysis encompasses the centrality of product branding, the overlaps between licit and illicit market advertising strategies, and the affordances of the platforms under study. Finally, conclusions relating to the implications of these findings to scholarship, policy, and regulation are offered.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Organized Crime
Early online date28 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2023

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