Testosterone Levels in Elite Athletes
This activity guides the analysis of a published scientific figure from a study that compared the testosterone levels of Olympic-level elite athletes.
Testosterone is a hormone that is naturally produced by both men and women, though typically at lower levels in women. Some international sports organizations use measurements of testosterone levels to determine eligibility for competing in women’s sports events. These rules are often challenged, as demonstrated by the case of Indian sprinter Dutee Chand. This figure shows the blood testosterone levels for 676 Olympic-level elite athletes, grouped by their biological sex and sport.
The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information. The graph and its title appear as in the published paper.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Describe the ranges of testosterone levels found in male and female athletes, and discuss their implications for sex verification testing in sports.
biological sex, dot plot, ethics, hormone, hyperandrogenism, hypoandrogenism, sex verification testing, sports
Sönksen, Peter H., Richard I. G. Holt, Walailuck Böhning, Nishan Guha, David A. Cowan, Christiaan Bartlett, and Dankmar Böhning. "Why do endocrine profiles in elite athletes differ between sports?" Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology 4, 3 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40842-017-0050-3.
The resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. No rights are granted to use HHMI’s or BioInteractive’s names or logos independent from this Resource or in any derivative works.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
AP Biology (2019)
IST-3.B; SP1, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
Common Core (2010)
Math.S-ID.6, Math.S-IC.4; MP2, MP5
Vision and Change (2009)