An umpire for Major League Baseball has been fired for violating the league’s drug policy, two sources confirmed to the Associated Press.
Brian Runge, a 14-year MLB veteran, failed an initial drug test. After breaching an agreement with the league that would have allowed him to remain an umpire, Runge was fired. On June 14, MLB announced that Runge, 43, had been replaced by 38-year-old Chris Conroy, but did not give a reason for the change in umpire staff.
The league has not yet commented publicly on the matter. Joe West, president of the World Umpires Association, also declined to comment, as did other umpires around the league.
AP said it could not determine which drug was involved in Runge’s firing.
Runge has not worked a major league game since last Aug. 30 due to a knee injury. He called a few spring training games this year, as well as several Triple-A games, but he had yet to officiate an MLB game this season.
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As AP points out, umpires are subject to the same random drug testing as players around the league. Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon, Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz and San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal have all missed games this season due to positive drug tests. Moreover, 26 minor league players have been suspended for the same reason. It is reportedly the first time an umpire has been fired from Major League Baseball due to a drug violation.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Runge comes from a long line of umpires. His father, Paul Runge, worked as an umpire in the National League from 1973 until 1997 and was present for four World Series. His grandfather, Ed Runge, was an American League umpire from 1954 to 1970 and worked three World Series contests.
Brian Runge joined the league as an umpire in 1999. He worked the All-Star Game last year and was the plate umpire for two no-hitters in 2012, including the 21st perfect game in league history pitched by Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox.