British 200m world champion Dina Asher-Smith was well beaten in her Diamond League opener as American Gabby Thomas served up a reminder of the event’s strength in depth.
Olympic bronze medallist Thomas, the third fastest woman in history, came home in 21.98 seconds in Doha.
Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson was closest to Thomas, with a fading Asher-Smith third in 22.37.
Namibian rival Christine Mboma missed the race through injury.
However the Olympic silver medallist is set to be fit for the business end of the season and, with Jamaican duo Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to also factor into the equation, it was a race to underline the challenge Asher-Smith will face to defend her title in Oregon in July.
Asher-Smith, whose only previous appearances this season have been low-key Lee Valley outings at 300m and 400m, may take comfort in her time, however.
It was her fastest 200m season-opener since she clocked 22.26 in 2019, the year of her world title win.
Asher-Smith’s fellow world 200m champion Noah Lyles claimed a big victory on his return to Doha, beating fellow American Fred Kerley and Olympic champion Andre de Grasse in a wind-assisted 19.72 seconds.
But the Londoner was far from the only champion to taste defeat on a blustery night at the Qatar Sports Club.
In the opening event on the track, the Dominican Republic’s Olympic silver medallist Marileidy Paulino claimed a significant upset win as she proved too strong for an out-of-sorts Tokyo 2020 champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo,winning in 51.20 seconds.
Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, one of a clutch of athletes banned from middle distance events because of their high but naturally-occurring testosterone levels, continued her impressive switch up to longer distance as she claimed a 3,000m victory over two-time 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya.
Home favourite Abderrahman Alsaleck – previously known as Abderrahman Samba – pulled out of 400m hurdles with a hamstring injury, but there was still drama as 21-year-old Alison Dos Santos of Brazil beat Olympic silver medallist Rai Benjamin in a new meeting record.
Kenyan teenager Noah Kibet, a silver medallist at the world indoors earlier this year, won the 800m as Great Britain’s Daniel Rowden finished fourth and American world champion Donavan Brazier, who failed to qualify for last year’s Tokyo Games, found himself well off the pace in sixth.
In front of a loud Kenyan contingent in the crowd, Abel Kipsang battled hard to see off his compatriot and world champion Timothy Cheruiyot in the 1500m.
Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi bowed out of the high jump at 2.24m before Mutaz Essa Barshim, the Qatari with whom he shared Olympic gold last summer, was edged out by South Korea’s Woo Sang-hyeok for the win.
Great Britain’s Naomi Metzger finished down in eighth with a wind-assisted best of 14.24m – 2cm better than her legal personal best – in a triple jump contest won by Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts, while Beth Dobbin was sixth in Asher-Smith’s wake in the 200m.
Sweden’s world record holder Mondo Duplantis was denied a chance to rack up a 10th straight win as high wind caused the pole vault to be postponed until Saturday and shifted indoors.
Grenada’s world champion Anderson Peters moved up to fifth in javelin’s all-time list with a huge throw of 93.07m – more than five and a half metres better than his previous personal best.