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The drugs don t work: Ex-Eagles guru
Drugs don't work: Ex-Eagles guru Matt Barber. Picture: Ben Crabtree/ The West Australian

The controversial strength coach who helped the West Coast Eagles beef up ahead of their 1990s premierships has denied the AFL has a drug problem, labelling it a "media beat-up".

Matt Barber said yesterday he had not witnessed the use of banned substances during his time in the AFL and WAFL.

He said B vitamins, protein and amino acids were all that he provided to players. He endorsed healthy eating, strength and conditioning and a "decent vitamin regime".

"The only reason people would need peptides is if they are unprepared for the game, if you have people who don't train and want to take drugs - there is always that person. But it's a rarity," he said.

"Those that do it will end up playing Sunday league or going down south."

Mr Barber said if there was found to be doping within the AFL, he believed it would involve individual players and people outside of football clubs, and did not believe it was endemic to the sport.

"Performance-enhancing drugs aren't necessary - it's probably happening to people who can't cut it and who don't have the right physiology for the game. But there are no shortcuts," he said.

"A skinny kid who is getting injured too often, well he is going to do what he wants to do. These individuals are always going to exist, but a football team would never do it, I would never do it and I don't believe it is necessary.

"If Essendon were taking performance-enhancing drugs, they were obviously taking the wrong ones because there's no enhancement in that team."

Mr Barber, who now coaches track and field at Curtin University, was involved in Subiaco's glory years from 2000, a decade which produced four WAFL flags, nine top-three finishes and a host of AFL recruits.

He was Mick Malthouse's first strength coach and helped the Eagles muscle their way into three grand finals in the early 1990s.

Mr Barber said the only cases of drug use he knew of were the four WAFL players suspended for illicit drug use between 2010 and 2012.