Report: Umpire dismissed after failed drug test

Report: Umpire dismissed after failed drug test

On June 14, it was announced that 38-year-old Chris Conroy had been hired as a full-time Major League umpire. The final line of the release noted that he would replace Brian Runge, "who is no longer on the umpiring staff."

The Associated Press filled in some of the blanks Tuesday, reporting that Runge had been dismissed after failing a drug test.

Two sources told the wire service that Runge had tested positive on a drug test at least once and reached an agreement to keep his job. When he broke the terms of that deal, he was dismissed.

Umpires, like players, are subject to random drug testing. Three Major League players -- Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal and A's pitcher Bartolo Colon -- along with 26 Minor League players have missed time while on suspension this season. The AP did not identify the substance Runge is alleged to have used.

This is apparently the first time an umpire has been let go for violating baseball's drug policy. It was only the second time since 2000 a midseason change has been made in the umpire roster; the previous occasion involved an injury.

Runge, who had a knee injury, didn't work in a Major League game after August 30 last season. He worked in Spring Training and some Triple-A games this season, but none in the big leagues.

Joe West, president of the World Umpires Association -- the union representing umpires -- told the AP that he had no comment.

Runge, 43, had been a Major League umpire since 1999 and is a member of baseball's first three-generation family of umpires -- his grandfather, Ed, started the tradition in 1954; his father, Paul, followed in his footsteps and became the National League's executive director of umpires after he retired following the '97 season. He had worked the playoffs three times and last year's All-Star Game in Kansas City.

Brian Runge was behind the plate for two no-hitters last season: Philip Humber's perfect game and the combined no-no by six Mariners pitchers. He was also at third base when Matt Cain pitched his perfect game last year.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.