Testosterone and sport: current perspectives

Horm Behav. 2012 Jan;61(1):147-55. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.09.010. Epub 2011 Oct 1.


Testosterone and other anabolic-androgenic steroids enhance athletic performance in men and women. As a result, exogenous androgen is banned from most competitive sports. However, due to variability in endogenous secretion, and similarities with exogenous testosterone, it has been challenging to establish allowable limits for testosterone in competition. Endogenous androgen production is dynamically regulated by both exercise and winning in competition. Furthermore, testosterone may promote athletic performance, not only through its long-term anabolic actions, but also through rapid effects on behavior. In women, excess production of endogenous testosterone due to inborn disorders of sexual development (DSD) may convey a competitive advantage. For many years, female competitors have been subject to tests of sexual genotype and phenotype known as gender verification. Although gender verification has not identified any normal man competing as a woman, this process has identified women athletes with DSD. As understanding of DSD has expanded in recent years, women with DSD are increasingly able to continue athletic competition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anabolic Agents / pharmacology
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Doping in Sports / methods
  • Epitestosterone / biosynthesis
  • Epitestosterone / blood
  • Epitestosterone / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Chromosome Aberrations
  • Sex Determination Analysis / methods
  • Sex Differentiation
  • Testosterone / biosynthesis
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Testosterone / pharmacokinetics
  • Testosterone / pharmacology
  • Testosterone / physiology*


  • Anabolic Agents
  • Testosterone
  • Epitestosterone