Zayn Malik drug abuse
Zayn Malik responds to drug abuse remark made by US TV show host Reuters

One Direction star Zayn Malik responded to drug abuse claims made about him by US host Matt Lauer, after he failed to turn up on The Today Show.

On 17 November, the 21-year-old singer was noticeably absent when the British boy band members, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan, appeared on the NBC morning show to promote their latest album, Four.

"I'm counting chairs here and I see four," Lauer said. "Normally, we're used to seeing five. Where's Zayn?"

Payne responded: "He's got a tummy bug so he's not very well at the moment, so he couldn't make it over. We only found out this morning, so we're very sad and he is, as well, that he can't be here for our album release day. It's still going to be a really great day."

Lauer pressed the question further: "Liam, 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 rumours of substance abuse. What's going on?"

"No, he's just got a stomach bug. He's okay. He's just at home. He just needs to rest. He's okay," Payne added.

In May, a video had emerged showing Malik and Tomlinson sharing what appears to be a joint on the Latin American leg of their world tour.

"I'm really angry and upset by what was said on The Today Show. I was really ill at the weekend. That's why I couldn't fly to America," Malik told The Sun.