To compare the baseline free testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) concentrations of elite and non-elite female athletes.


Eighteen females from different sports (track and field, netball, cycling, swimming, bob skeleton) were monitored over a 12-week period. Baseline measures of salivary free T and C concentrations were taken weekly prior to any training. The elites (n = 9) and non-elites (n = 9) were classified as international and national level competitors, respectively, with both groups matched by sport.


The pooled free T concentrations of the elites (87 pg/ml) were significantly higher than the non-elites (41 pg/ml) and consistently so across all weekly time points (P < 0.001). Pooled free C concentrations were also greater in the elite group (2.90 ng/ml) than the non-elites (2.32 ng/ml) (P < 0.01).


The pooled baseline T and C measures were higher in elite female athletes than non-elites. Higher free T and C concentrations could indicate a greater capacity for physical performance at higher work rates, which is commensurate with the demands of elite sport. Speculatively, the T differences observed could influence female behavior and thereby help to regulate sporting potential. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.