Asafa Powell is getting quicker and quicker the closer the world championships get. The former world record-holder, filling Usain Bolt's shoes for Jamaica, ran the third-fastest 100 meters of the year at the Diamond League meeting in Paris on Saturday. Powell's time of 9.81 seconds improved on his previous season's best of 9.84, which he's managed twice this year, in May and June. "It was a confidence booster," he said, "but I'm always confident." Powell was the evening's star attraction in the absence of Bolt. The world record-holder pulled out with a blocked joint in his left leg. Back from a doping suspension cut from 18 months to six months by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, for ingesting a banned stimulant in a supplement, Powell talked before the meet about how much happier he feels after his "very difficult" ban. He certainly looked comfortable on the Stade de France track. "A great race," he said. "I worked on my start last week and it paid off." He was not the fastest out of the blocks but quickly surged to the front. Justin Gatlin is still heading to the worlds in Beijing in August as the favorite, by virtue of his world-leading times this year of 9.74, run in May, and a 9.75 last month.