Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsm.2009.057596

Would you dope? A general population test of the Goldman Dilemma.

  1. James M Connor (james.connor{at}
  1. UNSW@ADFA, Australia
    1. Jason Mazanov (jason.mazanoz{at}
    1. UNSW@ADFA, Australia
      • Published Online First 11 February 2009


      Objective: To test Goldman’s dilemma on a sample of the general population by asking whether they would take the Faustian Bargain of a drug that guaranteed sporting success but would result in their death in five years time. Between 1982 and 1995 a bi annual survey using this dilemma suggested half of all elite athletes would take the drug. The general population was expected to report a positive rate of less than 50%.

      Design: A random telephone survey of 250 members of the Australian general public, with counterbalanced presentation of success and death (Conditions 1 and 2).

      Main Outcome Measurements: Respondents gave age, gender, sports engagement (hours participating and spectating) and response to the Goldman dilemma (yes/no).

      Results: Only 2 out of a sample of 250 members of the Australian public reported they would take the Faustian Bargain offered by the Goldman dilemma. The low positive response rate negated further statistical analysis.

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

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