Eurovision winner asks to take drug test after cocaine speculation

(AP) - The lead singer of the Italian rock band that won the Eurovision Song Contest has asked to take a drug test to refute speculation that he sniffed cocaine during the show.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said Maneskin lead singer Damiano David “will take a voluntary drug test after arriving home”.

It said the band “strongly refuted the allegations of drug use” that bubbled up on social media after David appeared to bend over a table during the contest.

David was asked at a post-victory news conference whether he had snorted cocaine during the broadcast.

He replied that he does not use drugs and indicated that he bent over because another band member had broken a glass at their feet.

In its statement, the EBU said that Maneskin band members had asked that David be drug tested to refute the speculation.

Members of the Maneskin from Italy Thomas Raggi, from left, Damiano David, Victoria De Angelis and Ethan Torchio pose on stage with the trophy after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Members of the Maneskin from Italy Thomas Raggi, from left, Damiano David, Victoria De Angelis and Ethan Torchio pose on stage with the trophy after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The move came as congratulations poured in across Italy for the glam rock band.

The four-person rock band, who got their start busking on Rome’s main shopping street, were the bookmakers’ favourite going into the Eurovision finale and sealed the win with the highest popular vote in the enormously entertaining, and incredibly kitsch, annual song festival.

“We are out of our minds!” Florence’s Uffizi Galleries tweeted along with an image of a Caravaggio Medusa and the hashtag #Uffizirock.

Maneskin, Danish for “moonlight” and a tribute to bass player Victoria De Angelis’ Danish ancestry, won with a total of 529 points.

France was second while Switzerland, which led after national juries had voted, finished third.

“Rock’n’roll never dies, tonight we made history. We love u,” the band tweeted before heading back home from Rotterdam, Netherlands, where this year’s contest was held.

Damiano David responds to questions at the press conference after his band Maneskin from Italy won the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Damiano David responds to questions at the press conference after his band Maneskin from Italy won the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The band got their start performing on Via del Corso, the main commercial thoroughfare in central Rome.

Their scrappy performances in front of a Geox store were a far cry from the over-the-top, flame-throwing extravaganza on Saturday night that literally split lead singer Damiano David’s pants.

David told a news conference this week that starting out on the street was embarrassing, since the group had to contend with other musicians vying for the same prized piece of pavement while neighbours complained about the noise.

“They were always calling the police,” De Angelis said, laughing.

Maneskin’s win was only Italy’s third victory in the contest and the first since Toto Cutugno took the honour in 1990.

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The victory means Italy will host next year’s competition, with cities bidding for the honour.

Launched in 1956 to foster unity after the Second World War, Eurovision evolved over the years from a bland ballad-fest to a campy, feel-good extravaganza.

It has grown from seven countries to include more than 40, including non-European nations such as Israel and far-away Australia.

Legend has it that Eurovision got its inspiration from Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival, which began in 1951 as a post-Second World War effort to boost Italian culture and the economy of the Ligurian coastal city that has housed it ever since.

Perhaps best known for having launched the likes of Andrea Bocelli and one of Italy’s most famous songs Nel blu, dipinto di blu – popularly known as Volare – the Sanremo festival usually picks Italy’s official selection for the Eurovision contest.

Members of the band Maneskin from Italy Thomas Raggi, from left, Ethan Torchio, Victoria De Angelis and Damiano David, on floor, pose for photographers with the trophy after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Members of the band Maneskin from Italy Thomas Raggi, from left, Ethan Torchio, Victoria De Angelis and Damiano David, on floor, pose for photographers with the trophy after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Saturday, May 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Maneskin won Sanremo this year with the same song, Zitti e Buoni (Quiet And Good) that they performed on Saturday night in Rotterdam.