A gondolier navigates his gondola in a canal in Venice.

Rome - Venice's famous gondoliers could soon be subject to breathalyser tests, after a series of complaints about drunkenness.

Under a proposed crackdown, the boatmen, who punt tourists around the 'floating city', would have to undergo the same alcohol and drug tests that drivers face.

The president of the gondoliers' association, Nicola Falconi, who is bringing the proposal to the council, told Italian news agency ANSA the tests should be applied to all transport operators in the city.

He said: ‘From water-bus drivers to ship hands - we're facing an ever-mounting problem'

The move comes in response to an alleged naked incident involving an aspiring gondolier.

A video posted online showed a group of gondoliers apparently forcing a candidate to strip off his clothes and swim in a canal off St Mark's Square in order to get the job.

The victim was allegedly applying to become a 'ganser', the person who helps passengers in and out of the gondola.

Politicians called for a lifetime suspension of the gondoliers involved.

Working as a gondolier in the famous romantic watery city is a competitive industry; skilled Venetian gondoliers are considered on a par with Spain's bull-fighters.

Local councillors Enrica Berti and Chiara Marri said: ‘Gondoliers represent our city before the entire world, and as such they must respect not only Venice's culture and history, but also the human and social spirit of its citizens.’ - Daily Mail