Marion Jones, the former Olympic track star who was imprisoned for her use of performance enhancing drugs at first wasn’t interested in retelling her story for ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series.

“I was a bit hesitant to want to have to open the door again to so much drama and pain,” she told reporters at press tour last year. “But after listening and getting a chance to meet John [Singleton, its director], I realized that it’s a part of healing as well.”

The film, “Marion Jones: Press Pause” debuts on ESPN tonight.

“It’s an opportunity for me to be able to share my story and allow people to, in some way, maybe understand –
maybe not agree with, but understand why there were certain choices and decisions that I made, and I couldn’t think of a better person to be able to present my story than John. So that’s the main reason I decided to come on board.”

For Singleton, doing a documentary was a bit of a change as well.

“The big difference for me as a documentarian as opposed to a narrative film, you really have to go with the flow of what the reality of the situation is,” he says. “I can’t make it what I want it to be. I have to go with what it is and try to be relevant to that subject matter.”

The stories might have been made before, Singleton says, “but they haven’t been told from the perspective of these filmmakers. And I’m really excited in terms of the story that we’re trying to tell is that this story is really happening and evolving.”

Marion is still on a certain journey, and I’m really
excited. I’ve always been interested in docs and really
only done future films and everything, and I watch docs
all the time, as I told Steve.

Jones’ story “got under my skin because I remember when she had her press conference,” he says, “I remember being emotionally shaken by what she was going through.

“And then I got really, really angry. You know what I mean? It’s like I had one emotion and I went from this emotion to this emotion.”

“And I was just like, ‘Why does she have to go through this when this subject has been pervasive through all the different forms of athletics in every different division? Why is she paying this price where all these other people have not paid the price?’

So when it came time for him to do the film, he said, “I’m going to do something different. And it’s not going to be candy-coated, but it’s going to be something that’s not going to be a fluff piece. It’s going to be something that I think people are really going to be affected by.”