Br J Sports Med 43:871-872 doi:10.1136/bjsm.2009.057596
  • Short report

Would you dope? A general population test of the Goldman dilemma

  1. J M Connor,
  2. J Mazanov
  1. School of Business, University of New South Wales at Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr J M Connor, School of Business, University of New South Wales at Australian Defence Force Academy, Northcott Drive, Canberra ACT, Australia 2600; James.Connor{at}
  • Accepted 23 January 2009
  • Published Online First 11 February 2009


Objective: To test Goldman's dilemma on a general population sample by asking whether they would take the Faustian bargain of a drug that guaranteed sporting success but would result in their death in 5 years' time. Between 1982 and 1995 a bi-annual survey using this dilemma suggested half of all elite athletes would take the drug.

Design: A random telephone survey of 250 members of the Australian general public, with counterbalanced presentation of success and death.

Main outcome measures: Respondents gave age, gender, sports engagement and response to the dilemma (yes/no).

Results: Only two of a sample of 250 reported they would take the bargain offered by the dilemma.

Conclusions: Athletes differ markedly from the general population in response to the dilemma. This raises significant practical and ethical dilemmas for athlete support personnel. The psychometry of the dilemma needs to be established more comprehensively for general and athlete populations.


  • Funding The survey was funded by a University of New South Wales new staff start-up grant. The University of New South Wales had no role in the design, analysis or reporting of this study.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval University of New South Wales ethics approval A-08-22.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

No Related Web Pages

Relevant Article

Free sample

This 2015 issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of BJSM.
View free sample issue >>

Email alerts

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.

Navigate This Article