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.
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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.