Eurovision Song Contest: Italian winner asks to take drug test after cocaine speculation

ITV News reporter Sam Holder asks what went so wrong for the UK...again

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.

Maneskin from Italy celebrate with the trophy after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest Credit: AP

The move came as congratulations poured in across Italy for the glam rock band. Meanwhile, the UK entry was not awarded a single point during the competition.

United Kingdom singer James Newman’s song, Embers, failed to ignite any love at all - finishing last - just as the UK did at the previous Eurovision two years ago.

But Maneskin’s win - only Italy’s third victory in the immensely popular contest - and the first since Toto Cutugno took the honour in 1990, gave one of the countries hit hardest in Europe by the coronavirus pandemic reason to cheer. The music festival was cancelled last year amid the pandemic but this year’s event in Rotterdam’s Ahoy arena, with its regime of testing and strict hygiene protocols, was seen as a step toward a post-Covid-19 return to live entertainment.

“We think that the whole event was a relief. We think that we were really thankful... to have had the chance to be part of this huge event,” Maneskin lead singer Damiano David said. “This Eurovision means a lot, I think, to the whole of Europe. It’s going to be a lighthouse. So thank you, everybody. Really,” he added. Italy, the bookmakers’ favourite, trailed Switzerland, France and Malta after the national juries delivered their votes but were propelled to victory by votes from the viewing public. “The audience is the most important thing, of course,” said bassist Victoria De Angelis.

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“So the fact that so many people vote for us, it’s the most meaningful, because that means that those people are coming to our gigs, they are listening to our music. And this has much more value than a jury.” A crowd of 3,500 fans, who all tested negative for the coronavirus, watched the finalists perform live. Maneskin is Danish for moonlight, a tribute to De Angelis’ home country. The band, which honed its musical style busking in Rome, won with a total of 529 points from second-placed France. Switzerland, which led after national juries had voted, finished third.

Rapper Flo Rida appeared alongside San Marino's entry, Senhit Credit: AP

US rapper Flo Rida didn’t manage to translate his star power into points for tiny San Marino’s entry that was sung by Senhit. They finished with just 50 points. For lovers of kitsch, German singer Jendrik played a sparkling ukulele and danced with a woman dressed in a giant hand costume optimistically showing the victory sign. He finished close to last. Lithuanian band The Roop danced in bright yellow costumes in a tongue-in-cheek homage to 1980s synth pop.Pravi’s song, 'Voilà', was a restrained ballad that built to a swirling crescendo on a largely darkened stage, but there was still plenty of the over-the-top spectacle that has become Eurovision’s trademark.

James Newman, right, from the United Kingdom is embraced by Jendrik from Germany after Newman received zero points during voting Credit: AP

Norwegian singer Andreas Haukeland, whose stage name TIX is a reference to growing up with Tourette syndrome, sang 'Fallen Angel' in a pair of giant white wings while chained to four prancing devils. At the other end of the spectrum, Finland’s hard-rocking Blind Channel played their song 'Dark Side' amid bursts of pyrotechnics and Ukraine’s Go_A performed surrounded by skeletal white trees. Ahead of the show, crowds gathered outside the arena in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Drag queens mingled with families as a man in a gold suit waited to get into the venue. Milo Mateo and Carlo Sossa, wearing matching sequin-covered hats and draped in Italian flags, came from Italy for the show and were hoping for a Maneskin victory since that would bring next year’s contest to Italy. “If we win, it will be very, very nice, because the next year will be in Italy. That’s very good. Let’s hope. Fingers crossed,” Mateo said as he waited to get into the arena.

Jendrik from Germany singing I Don't Feel Hate Credit: AP

The popular Icelandic band Dadi og Gagnamagnid, known for its kitsch dance moves and green leisurewear costumes, could not perform live because one member tested positive for the virus earlier in the week. Instead, viewers saw a recording of one of the band’s dress rehearsals. “The point was to go and actually experience how it was to compete in Eurovision, and that’s just really not happening,” lead singer Dadi Freyr said from isolation in Rotterdam. Maneskin lead singer David said the victory was a vindication of the band’s career trajectory that started with them busking on the streets of Rome. “We feel like everything we did since the day we met and since the day we started playing and playing on the streets is really making sense and it’s worth it,” he said.