JOHN Worsfold has defended West Coast's handling of the club's off-field drug issues in the mid-2000s.
In an article in The West Business Insider Magazine, published in Perth on Thursday, the former West Coast coach said the club acted by stripping Ben Cousins of the club captaincy in 2005.
"Ben lost the captaincy, which diminished his power over the group, and was sacked in 2007," Worsfold wrote.
"Michael Gardiner was suspended in 2006 and traded at the end of that season."
Worsfold said the club put together a document in early 2005 that was a catalyst for the playing group to bring the issues to the fore.
"The vision included the statement: "We will not abuse drugs and alcohol"," Worsfold wrote.
"The words were definitive and there for all to see in black and white.
"I think it gave some of the players confidence to blow the whistle on their teammates."
West Coast made the 2005 Grand Final, losing by four points to the Sydney Swans, and Cousins won the Brownlow medal. The Eagles won the premiership in 2006.
Worsfold says he copped "a lot of flak" for not acting on the drug culture sooner.
"I met with police on one occasion and they suggested to me that Ben Cousins was at risk of breaking the law," Worsfold wrote.
"This confused me because, as I suggested to them, if that was the case he should be arrested and charged, like everyone else."
Worsfold revealed that he met with Cousins and his father Bryan to discuss his issues during this period.
"But these discussions were based on Ben's problems as I understood them, which I believed were far milder than history proved," Worsfold wrote.
"Football was not part of the dialogue, other than in the context of warning Ben and his father that they risked sanctions if Ben was not acting according to the Eagles' shared vision."
Worsfold said he has wrestled with his performance as a coach and mentor during that difficult period.
"The question I ask myself is: "Was I a good coach in those turbulent times?" he wrote.
"On the one hand, I kept the team together and working hard towards winning a premiership.
"On the other hand, was it possible I let some players down by not being able to halt a small group going down a particular pathway?
"I know the answer. I am comfortable that I was a good coach because I know what action I took which was out of the public eye."
Ben Cousins and John Worsfold during a round 21 game against Fremantle back in 2006. Picture: AFL Media