When One Direction debuted their new album, Four, on the Today Show on Monday, just four of the usual five bandmates were present: Zayn Malik was reportedly sidelined by a stomach bug, but Matt Lauer wasn’t buying it. Between performances, the anchor asked Zayn’s bandmates about the 21-year-old singer. Liam Payne explained Zayn has “a tummy bug… so he couldn’t make it over.”
Unconvinced, Matt pressed on: “There’s obviously a lot of concern, a lot of fans have been tweeting overnight. There’s been a lot of action on social media about him. Is it something more serious than just a minor illness? There have been rumors of substance abuse. What’s going on?”
But Liam stuck to the story and added, “No, he’s just got a stomach bug. He’s okay. He’s just at home. He just needs to rest. He’s okay.”
Speaking to The Sun later that day, Zayn said Matt’s line of questioning just added insult to injury because he was already upset he missed the show.
“I’m really angry and upset by what was said on The Today Show,” Zayn said. “I was really ill at the weekend, that’s why I couldn’t fly to America. I was gutted to have to miss album release day, but I’m going to be back as soon as I can. As soon as I’m feeling better I’m going to join the guys and carry on with the promotion for the album.”
Rumors of drug abuse have followed Zayn for the past few years and really gained steam last spring when a leaked video showed him smoking pot. In the tape, Louis Tomlinson commented that Zayn likes to have a “two-hour, intense warm-up before every show” with “Mary J.”