FIFA seeks profiles of athletes' testosterone levels

Football's worldwide governing body FIFA is embarking on a testosterone-profiling study that its spokesman acknowledged is "a very sensitive matter" and that an anti-doping expert cautioned may not add useful information. The project - "Testosterone Metabolism in Different Ethnic Populations" - is aimed at determining whether natural levels of the male hormone are based on geography.

Theoretically, such information would be a tool in recognizing the introduction of synthetic testosterone for performance enhancement. "What we want to find out is whether there are any differences in testosterone levels in different populations," Andreas Herren, the spokesman for FIFA, told The Associated Press, "and the way their bodies work and what kind of testosterone levels they have naturally."

Football players will be tested from Asia and Africa, as well as sample groups of Caucasian, Hispanic and African-American players. Undertaking the study suggests that the current legal limit on testosterone levels, applied worldwide, could be adjusted according to a player's home region.