Lead singer of Italian band to take drug test after Eurovision controversy

Rome: Organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest say the lead singer of the Italian rock band that won had asked to take a drug test to counter speculation that he sniffed cocaine during the show.

A statement on Sunday from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs the event, said Maneskin lead singer Damiano David would take a voluntary drug test upon arriving back in Italy.

Damiano David performs with Maneskin at Eurovision.Credit:EBU

It said the band strongly refuted the allegations of drug use that arose during the event final in Rotterdam.

David was asked at a post-victory news conference whether he’d snorted cocaine during the broadcast. He replied that he doesn’t use drugs and indicated that he’d bent over because another band member had broken a glass at their feet.

Italy had earlier awoken following a night of celebrations after the glam rock band – who got their start busking on Rome’s main shopping drag – won Eurovision.

From the premier’s office on down, congratulations poured from the Italian establishment for the rather anti-establishment, giving Italy a sorely needed boost after a dreadful year as one of the countries worst hit by coronavirus.

Maneskin singer Damiano David was caught on video appearing to sniff something off the table.

The band was the bookmakers’ favourite going into the finale and sealed the win with the highest popular vote in the enormously entertaining – and incredibly kitsch – competition.

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 home from the Netherlands.

Maneskin celebrate after winning Eurovision.Credit:AP

The band got its start performing on Via del Corso, the main commercial thoroughfare in downtown 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 actually split lead singer Damiano David’s pants.

David told a news conference before the event that starting out on the street was embarrassing, since the group had to contend with other musicians vying for the same prized piece of sidewalk 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. The victory means Italy will host next year’s competition.

Launched in 1956 to foster unity after World War II, 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 Australia.

Legend has it that Eurovision got its inspiration from Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival, which began in 1951 as a post-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 Boccelli 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.

Maneskin won Sanremo this year with the same song, Zitti e Buoni (“Quiet and good”) that it performed on Saturday night in Rotterdam.

AP

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