Brussels: US sprinter Justin Gatlin scorched to a season`s fastest 9.77sec in winning the men`s 100m at the final Diamond League meet of the season on Friday.
The 32-year-old American, the 2004 Olympic 100m gold medallist and double sprint world champion in 2005 before serving a 2006-10 doping ban, had set the fastest times of the year in both sprints -- 9.80 in the 100m and 19.68sec in the 200m.
And he went one better at the King Baudouin Stadium to maintain his unbeaten season record over the blue riband event, with Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt having already called it a day after his injury-plagued year.
Gatlin, in lane three of nine, blasted out of the blocks and held an almost immediate lead over a formidable field.
With no big screen at the finishing line, athletes at the Brussels arena have no choice but to charge for the line rather than eyeing up rivals` positions and possibly easing up.
Dressed in figure-gripping red, white and blue sprint singlet, Gatlin did just that to edge out fellow-American Michael Rodgers (9.93), but fell just 0.01sec short of Bolt`s stadium record set in 2011.
Former world record holder Asafa Powell finished third in 9.95sec, one-hundredth of a second ahead of Commonwealth champion and fellow-Jamaican Kemar Bailey-Cole.
European champion James Dasaolu of England finished fifth in a season`s best of 10.00sec, 0.01 in front of American Tyson Gay, the former world champion who only returned to action recently after a doping ban.
Gatlin, who was and remains the target of many critics who believe in lifetime bans for drug cheats, returns to the track later Friday to compete in the 200m in a rare double.